Bankrupt shopping mall owner General Growth Properties will be paying shareholders a dividend, the company announced late Friday.

The initiative was approved by the same bankruptcy court that recently approved a large part of the company’s restructuring plan.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York authorized the payment to holders of common stock and the company’s board of directors declared a dividend of $0.19 per share, which is payable in a combination of cash and common stock on Jan. 28, 2010 to those holding stock on Dec. 28. The company is paying the dividend in order to keep its REIT tax status.

Last week, the company won approval from a bankruptcy court for its reorganization plan, which will affect more than $10 billion in mortgage loans.

General Growth, which owns more than 200 shopping malls, filed for bankruptcy in April after struggling to manage the massive $27 billion debt burden it accumulated with large acquisitions over the last several years and failing to execute several exchange offers. It won a waiver from creditors that would have forgiven missed payments for the rest of the year, but that waiver was conditional on the success of its debt exchange.

General Growth obtained approximately $375 million in DIP financing from Pershing Square Capital Management, the investment group headed by activist investor William Ackman.

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