Mall operator CBL files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

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California closes indoor shopping malls as it pulls back from opening due to a sharp rise in positive tests of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Carlsbad

(Reuters) – Shopping mall operator CBL & Associates Properties Inc <CBL.N> voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sunday, becoming the latest mall operator seeking to restructure its operations as the COVID-19 crisis caused prolonged closures.

Mall operators in the U.S. have been strapped for cash amid the pandemic as people have stayed indoors and resorted to online shopping.

Retailers, including J.C. Penney Co Inc, one of CBL’s biggest renter, already grappling with customers’ abandonment of traditional stores for online shopping have also resorted to bankruptcy filings.

CBL’s filing follows that of Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust earlier on Sunday, which filed a chapter 11 petition to execute a prepackaged financial restructuring plan.

The bankruptcy was earlier reported by Bloomberg, which said the process will give the company a chance to continue operating while reorganizing its finances and business.

In a filing on the U.S. Bankruptcy court for the Southern District of Texas, CBL listed both estimated assets and liabilities in the range of about $1 billion to $10 billion.

CBL had announced in August that it had entered into a restructuring support agreement with a group of bondholders to allow it to strengthen its balance sheet and organization.

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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