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General Growth Properties Inc. (GGP), the second-largest U.S. mall owner, won permission from a bankruptcy judge to restructure about $10.25 billion in debt at some of its shopping centers and office buildings. The restructuring will allow 103 mall properties holding those loans to exit bankruptcy by the end of the year. Greg Cross, the chair of Venable's Bankruptcy Practice Group, has been advising the special servicer trusts negotiating for the lender-investors.

According to the Bloomberg article, General Growth filed the biggest real-estate bankruptcy in U.S. history in April after amassing $27 billion in debt during an acquisition spree. At the time of the bankruptcy, the company had around $11.8 billion in debt that had matured or was due by the end of 2012. The company owns or manages more than 200 shopping malls in 44 states and also owns office buildings.

General Growth surprised bondholders when it included nine special-purpose entity borrowers owning 166 securitized properties in its bankruptcy filing. "There was a concern this case would symbolize a threat to the commercial real estate with the SPE structure," said Cross in the Bloomberg story. "I think confirmation of this plan will put that concern to rest."

According to the AmLaw Daily story, GGP's lawyers are working to whittle the company's debt even further - a hearing for the judge to consider a restructuring plan for $1.75 billion in additional mortgages is set for Friday. If that deal is approved, the company will be left with $7 billion in unsecured debt and $3 billion in secured debt.