(Bloomberg) — The largest shareholder in high-end mall owner Macerich Co. sold its entire holding for nearly $500 million when the stock soared after being touted on Reddit.
Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan sold 24.56 million shares on Wednesday at an average price of $20.25 a share, according to details in an amended 13D. The Canadian fund had owned 16.4% of the company, according to data complied by Bloomberg.
Macerich, based in Santa Monica, California, has been struggling for years and was battered by a pandemic that forced malls to shut down and pushed consumers toward e-commerce. The stock lost 84% of its value over a three-year period ending Dec. 31, 2020.
Then comments began appearing on Reddit boards including r/wallstreetbets, the subreddit now famous for helping to fuel an astonishing rise in GameStop Corp., AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and other heavily-shorted or out-of-favor stocks.
Macerich shares jumped 68% in four trading sessions and reached about $26 at one point on Wednesday on frenetic volume — allowing Ontario Teachers to get out. A spokesperson for the C$207 billion ($161 billion) fund did not respond to an email and phone call requesting comment.
One Reddit user touted Macerich as “GameStop’s landlord,” saying it has “the potential to offer a GME-like short squeeze, but with better downside protection.” The short interest is 57% of the float, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Lower rents and increased vacancies have plagued mall owners during the pandemic. Macerich owns 52 shopping centers across the U.S., mostly in cities, according to its website, including Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Brooklyn and The Shops at North Bridge in Chicago.
Macerich fell 15% on Thursday to $19.01.
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