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In an effort to help retail stores stay in business, mall owners are considering becoming lenders and converting rent and other liabilities into secured debt, Bloomberg News reported.

The idea is to give retail chains room to continue operating and stay out of court, Bloomberg reported.

The news service reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that the financial adviser PJ Solomon is talking with several mall owners about implementing the strategy with the apparel chain Forever 21.

If the move doesn't work and a retailer still goes under, landlords who undertake the strategy can have more influence in the bankruptcy process since lenders get higher priority for payment, Bloomberg noted.

The news service cited statistics from Coresight Research showing that more than 7,500 individual retail stores have closed in 2019.