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Media City Builder Raises $374 Million : Finance: Haagen Co., which developed mall with city as partner, receives cash infusion from investors. Some wonder when revenues will flow in Burbank’s direction.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eight months after going public, the Alexander Haagen Co. says it has raised $374 million in much-needed capital from investors around the world.

The firm developed the Burbank Media City Center shopping mall in partnership with the city of Burbank. Haagen used $133 million to repay debt on the center, which was completed in 1991, said an official with the Manhattan Beach-based company.

Haagen’s company and Burbank officials declined to discuss the ongoing, closed-door meetings they have had about the property.

But one city official said the Haagen firm’s ability to pay its debt is important to the mall’s long-term financing.

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The city leases the land to Haagen and will do so at least until the year 2045. In exchange, the developer must turn over 50% of the net profits generated by the shopping center after debt service.

The mall has not yet yielded a profit for Burbank, however. But city officials are confident about eventually receiving a return on the millions of dollars spent to purchase the land.

“We have not realized one nickel. All the money is going in (Haagen’s) direction,” said Ted McConkey, an observer of City Hall. “Where Haagen and his company held out the promise of profit, nothing is coming back and the city has never quite figured out how to get out of the mess.”

City officials insist that Burbank’s investment in the Media City Center has been relatively unaffected by the public financing of Haagen’s company, and the city will still get to keep half of the net profits made.

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“There’s not been a great deal of impact at all,” Mayor Bill Wiggins said. “We are still partners in the Media City Center mall.

“As far as the city not seeing anything from it, my (response) is: Go down to the mall. I think the mall has brought in a lot of people.”

Little debate preceded Haagen’s step toward public financing, in large part because city staff determined that their consent was unnecessary for the deal to go forward.

Haagen placed the bulk of his firm’s assets--which includes 36 properties throughout Southern California--into a real estate investment trust late last year.

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A REIT, as it is known, works somewhat like a mutual fund. Money from a number of investors is pooled to buy property or make loans. Some people prefer REITS because they offer potentially high yields and shares can easily be sold through a broker.

More than 10 million Haagen company shares were sold within a month, according to a company official who declined to be identified. The largest shareholders are fund-management companies such as Cohen & Steers of New York and Boston-based Fidelity Management & Research Co.

Friday’s closing price for Alexander Haagen Co. shares was $17.88 on the American Stock Exchange.

“The shopping center has thrived since the formation of the REIT,” said Assistant City Manager Steve Helvey. “To say we haven’t profited is to ignore the sales tax and economic vitality of downtown. . . . Our view is that everybody got what they bargained for.”

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