CBL Properties on Monday announced that it is suspending all future dividends on its common stock, 7.375% Series D Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock and 6.625% Series E Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock.
Stephen D. Lebovitz, CBL's chief executive officer, said, “Suspending dividends is a significant and difficult decision, one that was carefully considered by management and the board. However, preserving free cash flow is a paramount objective for CBL at this time.
“We anticipate a decline in net operating income in 2020 as a result of heightened retailer bankruptcies, restructurings and store closings in 2019. Offsetting these declines by retaining available cash is necessary to maintain the market dominant position of our properties and to reduce debt.
"CBL has also made significant efforts over the past 18 months to reduce operating costs, including executive compensation and overall corporate G&A expense, as well as execution of a strategy to utilize joint venture and other structures to reduce capital expenditures. Ultimately, we believe these actions will allow the Company to return greater value to its shareholders.”
The dividend suspension will be reviewed quarterly by the board of directors, but is expected to remain in place until year-end 2020, officials said.
The company made this determination "following a review of current taxable income projections for 2019 and 2020. The company will review taxable income on a regular basis and take measures, if necessary, to ensure that it meets the minimum distribution requirements to maintain its status as a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).
"Unpaid dividends on CBL’s preferred stock shall accrue without interest. No dividends may be paid on shares of CBL’s common stock unless all accrued but unpaid dividends on its preferred stock, and any current dividend then due, have been (or contemporaneously are) paid in cash, or a cash sum sufficient for such payment has been set apart for payment."
CBL is a Chattanooga-based company that owns both Hamilton Place Mall and Northgate Mall among many other properties.