With an electronic ticker flashing a message welcoming the company aboard, executives of Baltimore's Prime Retail Inc. rang the bell to open trading yesterday and to mark their arrival on the New York Stock Exchange.
The real estate investment trust, which specializes in developing and managing outlet malls, also announced yesterday that the completion of a public offering of stock that moved 10 million shares at $14 each. Those proceeds coupled with $60 million in institutional investments announced earlier this month give the company about $200 million in new funds.
Chief Executive Officer Abraham Rosenthal said the company would use $120 million of that to acquire three projects totaling 900,000 square feet. He declined to be more specific about the properties, but said all are under contract and will be announced soon.
The combination of events capped Prime Retail's yearlong efforts to become more mainstream and get a higher profile on Wall Street.
"I think it is a very special moment in one's professional life to be able to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange," Rosenthal said. "It's the largest equity market in the world, and it will provide us continued access to the capital markets for a long time to come."
Prime Retail, which will trade common stock under the ticker symbol PRT, had previously been listed on Nasdaq.
The company held a secondary public offering in June 1996 that raised $43.5 million, and shortly before that had converted 65 percent of one tier of its preferred stock to common shares.
Prime Retail announced at that time its intention to switch to the NYSE, all part of a strategy of raising its profile among investors and capital lenders.
Now the company boasts almost $1.2 billion in market capitalization and total common equity capitalization of $361.1 million.
Besides the three new mall projects, the company will use $65 million of the new funds to reduce debt, and will buy out a joint venture partner's 25 percent stake in Buckeye Factory Shops Limited Partnership, near Cleveland.
Prime Retail's portfolio currently features 24 outlet centers in 18 states, totaling 6.1 million square feet.
Rosenthal said the company's new stature will help it achieve its plans for growth.
"We have a plateful of projects ahead of us, and we hope to be able to execute them," Rosenthal said.
The company's stock rose 25 cents in trading yesterday to close at $14.25.
Pub Date: 8/28/97