UPDATE 2-General Growth defaults on some malls repayments
* Court orders seizure and sale of Louisiana mall
* Stock down 6 percent
* Loans on three malls moved to special servicing (Adds investor quote, background, stock price byline)
By Ilaina Jonas
NEW YORK, March 20 (Reuters) - A Louisiana court issued an order to seize and sell a General Growth Properties Inc (GGP.N) shopping center in a New Orleans suburb after the No. 2 U.S. mall owner failed to repay a $95 million loan, a Citigroup Inc (C.N) unit said on Friday.
The Oakwood Shopping Center in the town of Gretna is the fourth mall loan that General Growth has said over the past few days it would not be able to repay.
But it is unclear what the effect the relatively small foreclosure and defaults will have on the overall financial outlook for the company, which has said it may have to file for bankruptcy protection if it cannot refinance its much larger debt.
The Chicago-based company, which owns or operates more than 200 U.S. malls, has $1.18 billion in past due debt and additional $4.09 billion of debt that could be accelerated by its lenders. It is trying to garner the support of holders of notes from Rouse Co, which General Growth acquired in 2004, for support that would allow it skip the payments on $2.25 billion of notes this year.
"I don't know if that necessarily leads them to foreclose across the board," Sam Lieber, chief executive and portfolio manager of the Alpine Funds. "It may make it tougher with regard to getting the final approval from the note holders. If that unravels as a result of this, I think you would see them do a preemptive filing, and that's in order to retain the cash flow and the cash on hand.
Rating agency Standard & Poor's said on Friday securitized mortgages on three malls had been transferred to special servicers after General Growth said it would not be able to repay the loans due to difficult capital market conditions.
Part of the Town East Mall, a 1.3 million-square-foot mall in Mesquite, Texas, secured a loan that has a $105.4 million balance due on April 11.
The Southland Mall in Hayward, California, secured a loan with a balance of $81.3 million. The loan matured March 1, according to the ratings agency.
A third loan, which a balance of $73.7 million, was secured by part of the 1.2 million-square-foot Deerbrook Mall in Humble, Texas. The loan matured March 1.
General Growth did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
General Growth shares closed 6 percent, or 3 cents, down at 44 cents on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Ilaina Jonas; editing by John Wallace and Andre Grenon)
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