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Hostile Takeovers, Gentile Dining and Top-Dollar Careers

Columnist: Bill Meagher
May, 2015 Issue
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Bill Meagher
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Macerich realized Marin has more families than before—families with the cash and enabling skills to dote on their youngsters.

 
The ugly hostile takeover fight between Macerich Company and Simon Property Group is a good reminder of how factors outside Marin can impact the local economy.
 
Macerich, which owns both The Village at Corte Madera and Northgate Shopping Centre in San Rafael, was the target of an unsolicited bid from rival Simon Property Group. The merger offer of $23.2 billion was rejected by Santa Monica-based Macerich, the third-largest mall operator in the country.
 
Had Macerich opted to sell off, the stores in both malls would have had the security of their existing leases, but employees and shoppers might have had different experiences under a Simon ownership.
 
Macerich, which focuses on higher-end shopping centers, has 51 centers across the country, adding up to 54 million square feet, and prides itself on owning “irreplaceable assets.” The company remodeled Northgate in 2009, transforming it from a dark, enclosed mall anchored by traditional retailers Macy’s and Sears, into a lighter shopping center focused on younger shoppers, moving out retailers that didn’t fit a younger demographic. At first blush, the move might have seemed odd for a center smack dab in the middle of a county getting grayer by the day, but Macerich realized Marin has more families than before—families with the cash and enabling skills to dote on their youngsters.
 
The Village also underwent a facelift, which continues as Nordstrom puts the finishing touches on its $20 million remodel that birthed a new eatery, the Blue Stove restaurant.
 
Simon, the largest shopping center owner in the United States, has a total of 160 malls domestically as well as overseas. It targets upscale malls for acquisition and has created two brands for itself, “The Mills,” large outdoor malls, and Premium Outlets, including locations in Petaluma, Napa and San Francisco.
 
Both companies are public, which meant the takeover attempt by Simon needed to play out on CNBC and in the company board rooms where Simon put a final best offer of $95.50 per share on the table, up from its original $91.50 offer. Simon built a small stake in Macerich prior to the takeover try, going as far as sitting with General Growth Properties, the second-biggest shopping center owner in the United States, to talk about which of Macerich’s malls it would be willing to sell off. The strategy was said to be in play to avoid taking on too much debt in the merger, as well as keeping cries of anti-trust violations on the quiet side.
 
Macerich put a 24-page corporate presentation together to demonstrate why it was protecting shareholders by telling Simon to get lost. The presentation was equal parts self-praise and criticism of why Simon’s offer was wrong-headed.
 
To make sure Simon couldn’t lay its hands on enough shares to take control, Macerich’s board approved a poison pill that expires next year.
 

Lark Creek Inn goes Perry’s

Lark Creek Inn was arguably Marin’s first-ever destination restaurant, and Bradley Ogden its first celebrity chef. But Ogden packed his toque for Las Vegas and other places. In March 2014, a fire shuttered the place, then known as The Tavern at Lark Creek.
 
Now the space has been taken over by restaurateur Perry Butler, himself a Larkspur resident. Butler operates Perry’s, a group of four restaurants located in San Francisco on Union Street, the Embarcadero, the Design Center and SFO.
 
When the original location on Union first opened, it caught a lot of flack for being a “fern bar” and a pick-up joint.
 
Today, Perry’s is a gastro-pub with little in the way of plants. It will be interesting to see what Butler does with the Lark Creek location, which is a bit of a barn compared to his other locations.
 

Your Marin moment

Glasssdoor, the Sausalito-based recruiting and employment platform, has ranked the 25 highest-paying jobs in demand. The top jobs include physician at $212,270 per year, pharmacy manager at $131,099 and software architect at $130,891.
 
The Glassdoor study was based strictly on what the jobs paid and that there were available positions. For instance, there are almost 8,000 open spots for docs, pharmacy managers are needed in 1,787 places and there are 3,229 openings for software architects.
 
Clearly, there are plenty of jobs that pay more, but the unfilled slots are considered to be too limited. For instance, as opening day loomed for the San Francisco Giants, they were on the market for not just one starting outfielder, but two (and that’s giving Nori Aoki the benefit of the doubt). And at the major league minimum of $507,500, the gig makes the $212K doctors pull down look cheap.

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