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General Growth reaches agreement with more lenders

NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Growth Properties <GGWPQ.PK> reached agreements with additional lenders to extend loans on its shopping centers and other properties and will ask a judge later this month to approve the plan that so far covers $9.7 billion of its secured debt.

The company late Tuesday filed a plan of reorganization to repay loans on 92 properties, which now includes 77 shopping centers, three office buildings, 10 smaller shopping developments and two industrial properties.

Each of the entities involved in the loans will have to approve the agreements, and U.S. bankruptcy Court Judge Allan Gropper gave the green light for the documents to be sent to those creditors, court papers showed.

A hearing on confirmation of the plan is scheduled to be held December 15.

"There are a lot fewer problems for General Growth to worry about," said Derek Smith, attorney with Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, which is not directly involved in the bankruptcy. "Now there are fewer people at the table with a say in the bankruptcy. It's cleaning up General Growth's issues."

The second largest U.S. mall owner, and biggest real estate failure in U.S. history, has the exclusive right to come up with its own reorganization plan through late February.

The company is continuing to negotiate with holders of remaining $5.2 billion of its $14.9 billion in property debt that was included its April 16 bankruptcy. Chicago-based General Growth also has another roughly $7 billion in unsecured corporate debt.

"When we filed for bankruptcy we said we had a number of conditions," Thomas Nolan Jr., General Growth president and chief operating officer, told Reuters. "The first was to deleverage the company. The second was to put a more coherent maturity schedule in for our debt. This step goes enormously a long long way to accomplishing that objective."

If approved, the plan would bring the entities associated with the properties out of bankruptcy but still controlled and owned by General Growth.

The company filed for protection from creditors when it was unable to refinance maturing debt, even though it had $29.56 billion in assets. Some of its other entities, including its properties it owns with other investors in joint ventures, were not included in the bankruptcy.

Shares of General Growth on Wednesday were down 1.3 percent to $6.81 in afternoon trading.

The case is In re: General Growth Properties Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 09-11977.

(Reporting by Ilaina Jonas, Caroline Humer and Chelsea Emery in New York and Santosh Nadgir in Bangalore; editing by John Wallace and Tim Dobbyn)

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