There is nice piece in next month’s Forbes on Kimco Realty Corporation and Milton Cooper: Beyond the Big Box.
“REITs have to follow certain rules in order to avoid most corporate income taxes. Chiefly, they must pay out 90% of their income to shareholders in dividends. Many REITs are content to own buildings and collect rent. Others, like Boston Properties, have also moved into developing their own buildings. But Cooper gets 45% of his earnings from sources like managing real estate for pension funds, lending to bankrupt retailers and buying distressed properties. Only a few other REITs, such as Developers Diversified and ProLogis, have branched out like this.”
“So in 1998 Cooper had a brainstorm: go into business with pension funds, developing and managing shopping centers for funds such as New York Common Retirement Fund and G.E. Pension Trust. Here was a bunch that was happy with returns as low as 6%, if the investments were safe. Many also were required to have some capital in real estate. Typical partnership deal: The pension funds contribute 85% of the project cost, Kimco the remainder. Once the center is built Kimco earns a fee for managing the properties, around 4% of rents.”