11/27/2013 | by
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Matthew Bucksbaum, co-founder of General Growth Properties, Inc. (NYSE: GGP), has died of respiratory failure at the age of 87.

Bucksbaum retired in August 2007 as chairman of Chicago-based GGP, which owns and manages 123 regional malls across the U.S. and is the country’s second-largest retail property REIT. The company’s roots can be traced to the early 1950s, when Bucksbaum and his brother Martin built their first shopping center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In 1993, the brothers took the company public in an initial public offering worth $1.3 billion. Two years later, GGP acquired Homart Development Co., the shopping center arm of Sears, Roebuck and Co., in a deal worth $1.9 billion.

In 2004, GGP acquired eight malls for $1.9 billion, including the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian Las Vegas resort. During that same year, GGP acquired The Rouse Company’s portfolio of high-quality assets in a deal valued at $12.6 billion.

Burdened by debt, GGP filed for bankruptcy in 2009, but the company managed to exit Chapter 11 protection the following year. As a result of the bankruptcy process, the company was split into two entities, with the main surviving company focusing purely on the mall sector.

GGP spokesman David Keating said that for the business world, Bucksbaum "is a pioneer who helped transform the American retail landscape. To us at GGP, he is more than a co-founder; he’s an inspiration and our friend...his unwavering integrity, work ethic and dedication live on today in GGP and in those fortunate to have known him."

Bucksbaum became a member of the board of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) in 1986, and he was named the organization’s worldwide chairman in 1992. ICSC described Bucksbaum as an “industry pioneer, but his success in the business had much to do with his ability to anticipate changes and prepare his company to respond.”

Bucksbaum served two terms as chairman of the Aspen Music Festival and was a board member of the Chicago Symphony Association. He and his wife, Carolyn, co-founded the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence at the University of Chicago.