IN BRIEF

LOS ANGELES

Simon Property offers to trade help for General Growth stake

Shopping mall owner Simon Property Group Inc. is willing to settle for a slice of its biggest rival, just two months after it had a buyout offer rejected as too low.

Simon, the nation’s largest mall operator, on Wednesday offered to help finance General Growth Properties Inc.’s exit from bankruptcy in exchange for a quarter stake in the No. 2 mall owner.

Analysts suggested Simon may have backed off a bid for a complete takeover because of antitrust concerns.

But a person familiar with the talks between the two companies said Wednesday that General Growth has made clear it prefers a strategy that would give it the financial means to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, rather than to be taken over.

Still, in a letter to General Growth CEO Adam Metz, Simon CEO David Simon stressed he remains ready to discuss a buyout of the company.

General Growth issued a brief statement noting it would study the latest Simon offer.

General Growth operates more than 200 shopping malls in 43 states and is the nation’s second-largest shopping mall operator.

In Las Vegas, General Growth owns the Boulevard, Meadows and Fashion Show malls, the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian and the Shoppes at Palazzo.

Simon Property owns the Forum Shops at Caesars, the Las Vegas Premium Outlets and the Las Vegas Outlet Center.

Longtime gaming executive added to MGM Mirage board

Longtime gaming executive Burton Cohen will join the MGM Mirage board of directors, the casino operator announced early Wednesday.

Cohen, an attorney and retired resort official, served in many prominent positions during his 30-year career in Las Vegas.

Early in his career, Cohen co-owned and managed the Frontier Hotel and Desert Inn.

Cohen helped developer Jay Sarno open Circus Circus. He later was executive vice president of the Flamingo; eventually becoming president of Flamingo Hilton after Hilton Corp. acquired the property in 1971.

Cohen was vice president at Caesars Palace and a member of the casino’s operating company board of directors.

In 1978, Cohen was the first president and general manager of the Desert Inn when the Summa Corp. owned it. He was instrumental in the casino serving as the home of the television show “Vega$.”

Cohen oversaw the financial restructure of the Dunes in 1986, helping to nearly double the hotel-casino’s value.

In 1992, Cohen returned to the Desert Inn as president and CEO. He stayed on as president and managing director when the property was sold to ITT Sheraton Corporation.

Cohen retired in 1995 and was elected to the American Gaming Association’s Hall of Fame that year.

ATLANTA

Senators want to tax fliers that charge fees for carry-on bags

Six Democratic senators want to hit U.S. airlines with a tax if they charge passengers for their carry-on bags.

The senators said Wednesday that this would keep more airlines from following Spirit Airlines’ lead. The small Florida airline said last week that starting Aug. 1 it will charge its customers as much as $45 to bring a bag aboard its aircraft and put it in an overhead bin.

Air travelers have been forced to pay a barrage of fees for once-free amenities since 2008, for everything from checked bags to pillows to food. That has not stopped them from flying, but critics say charging for carry-on bags is stepping over the line.

The senators — Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Charles Schumer of New York, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey — want a law that would designate carry-on baggage as a necessity for air travelers.

Airlines now pay a 7.5-cent tax to the federal government for every dollar they collect in fares, but no tax is imposed on fees collected for nonessential services, the senators said.

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