UPDATE 1-General Growth plan hearing may be delayed

* General Growth says needs more time finalize its plan

* Was to have been filed Friday

* Gives Simon Property more time for rival offer

NEW YORK, March 18 (Reuters) - A key hearing on a plan for General Growth Properties Inc GGP.N to emerge from bankruptcy is likely to be postponed, giving larger mall owner Simon Property Group Inc SPG.N more time to come up with a better offer.

General Growth told U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Allan Gropper on Thursday that the company needed more time to finalize its agreements for the plan to exit bankruptcy because of the size and complexity of more than $6.5 billion of commitments from its partners Brookfield Asset Management and Fairholme Capital Management.

The plan was to be filed with the court by Friday, and instead would be ready to file by the end of next week, an attorney for General Growth said.

That would push the date of the hearing on the plan back from its scheduled April 13 date to a date not yet set, although the judge raised the possibility of April 15.

Simon Property is weighing a new offer that would be higher than the $10 billion offer that General Growth spurned last month. But the hearing date also serves as a deadline for any competing bid because General Growth’s plan includes issuing 120 million warrants, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to its backers and that would drive up the cost of a competing bid. [ID:nN11206554]

The case is In re: General Growth Properties Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 08-13555. (Reporting by Ilaina Jonas; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)