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Taubman CEO Pleased by Refinancing Progress

Stocks in this article: TCO

Are there any retailers that you're seeing that are demanding more space or some that are maybe pulling back on space?

Sure the electronics retailers, Apple (AAPL), Microsoft's (MSFT) rollout, there's a lot of demand for space there. We find that juniors merchants people like Forever 21, American Eagle (AEO), H&M are looking for space in our shopping centers, doing very well. We have big categories that are doing very well and retailers are much more optimistic about the forward quarters as they look ahead over the next couple of years and they want to take space in our shopping centers.

That's interesting because when we got the June sales out, it seems like May/June, the consumer was starting to kind of close their purse a little bit and starting to have exhausted all those needs that they had at the beginning of the year. So are you seeing that that's going to continue or it sounds like you feel like they're going to start to spend again?

I think there's always a mix of results. In our centers, our centers have actually shown very strong, positive movement throughout this year. So we're very pleased with where the consumer is in our properties.

Alright let's talk about the financing. There was a lot of concern that there was going to be a commercial real estate bust if you will, similar to what we saw with the residential market. And we haven't quite seen that yet so you were saying there's a lot of debt that's going to be coming due. How is that situation playing out?

Depending on who's counting it, there's somewhere between a trillion and two trillion dollars in the commercial real estate sector that is coming due over the next couple to three years. There has been this movement to really amend, extend and pretend about what's going to happen. we think that other foot may in fact drop at some point.

But from our perspective good sponsors and good assets are seeing movement - new movement in the capital markets that's very positive especially in the last 30 to 60 to 90 days. We have just refinanced two assets, we have a third asset that we're in the process of refinancing at much better spreads, at much longer time frames, and at much higher funding levels than we anticipated even three, four months ago.

So we are seeing movement in the capital markets that are positive. Whether or not that extends itself to the broader commercial real estate markets that are coming due with this large portion of debt is not clear yet.

How do you feel the banks are dealing with this? Because it would seem that the banks would be more willing to negotiate with a big developer. That they might have a long-term relationship as opposed to maybe a residential mortgage that's much smaller.

I think that's generally true and I think you have to look at each property type and look at the specifics and the specifics both of that type as well as the market that it's in. Clearly there's still an overabundance of supply in the residential market as an example, and that's where small banks tend to have as much as two-thirds of their assets -- in those kinds of loans.

But I do think that bigger sponsors are getting better response from the banks because the banks feel more comfortable with them and they've been able to manage their way through this crisis. Whether they've sold equity, whether they've sold assets, whether they've cut their dividends, they've been able to deal with the crisis in a multi-faceted way as opposed to the smaller owner of assets. In our case, we were very fortunate we had a strong balance sheet, we didn't have to do any of those things. We didn't cut our dividend, we didn't issue equity, we didn't sell assets.

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