Brazil mall executives shrug off looming Amazon.com expansion
The optimism of executives gathered this week at the Shopping Center International Congress in Sao Paulo contrasted sharply with global investor sentiment about malls in the age of online retail. E-commerce giants Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Argentina's Mercadolibre Inc (MELI.O) have set major expansions here, spooking some foreign investors and sending shares in Brazil's three largest mall operators down more than 19 percent so far this year. They say a better mix of non-retail tenants in malls, the high costs of shipping in Brazil and other factors should allow malls here to continue to thrive. But some say the industry is overconfident, noting that Amazon has been scooping up local warehouses and negotiating air cargo deals in Brazil, while some retailers are reporting double-digit growth in online sales from last year. "In New York, the investors are much more concerned about e-commerce than in Brazil," said Thiago Muramatsu, chief financial officer at Cyrela Commercial Properties SA (CCPR3.SA) (CCP), which owns malls and office buildings.