While General Growth Properties (GGP) recently received short-term extensions of the maturity dates for both corporate and non-recourse debt, default "of some kind appears imminent," according to Fitch Ratings in a report released yesterday.

Fitch downgraded GGP's issuer default and outstanding debt ratings as a result and said the ratings remain on negative watch status. GGP, a REIT that owns regional malls, is likely to face either a distressed debt exchange, whereby GGP would be forced to restructure its debt obligations in an effort to avert bankruptcy, or the company likely will fail to repay debt currently due in the near term.

Weak market conditions are impeding GGP's ability to repay 2009 maturing, unsecured debt of approximately $600 million, Fitch said.

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