Stephen Lebovitz, CEO of CBL Properties (NYSE: CBL), participated in a video interview at Nareit’s REITworld: 2022 Annual Conference held in San Francisco on Nov. 15-17.
Last year saw CBL complete a major balance sheet reorganization. Lebovitz said the change has been “very helpful” for the company, resulting in significant free cash flow, “which is good to have in this environment,” as well as a reduction in debt.
Lebovitz also discussed some of the changes CBL has made to the traditional mall model. He pointed out that CBL has been in the mall business for about 50 years and was a pioneer in the space. During the past decade, change in the mall business has been “unprecedented,” he said, including a reinvention of the definition of an anchor store and the addition of external activities in parking lots. “The mall is changing more today than it ever has.”
Meanwhile, Lebovitz voiced some concern over the possible impact of inflation and high interest rates on foot traffic across the portfolio. However, “so far foot traffic has held up,” he said. CBL’s diverse portfolio of tenants and the addition of experiential retail has helped position the company to deal with possible macro challenges, he said.