US mall king Simon Property Group raised its bid Friday for Macerich Co. by five percent, saying it was "its best and final offer" for the smaller shopping center owner.
Simon, which announced a hostile bid for Macerich on March 9 after friendly overtures were rebuffed, raised its previous $91 a share offer to $95.50, worth $16.8 billion.
That came after Macerich responded last week to the $91 offer by erecting defenses to make Simon's "coercive" bid more difficult and costly, including barriers to Simon placing its own nominees on the board.
Macerich though also said at the time that the offer "substantially undervalues" the company.
Simon said its new half-cash, half-shares offer values Macerich at $23.2 billion, when including taking on Macerich's $6.4 billion debt load.
The new offer is 37 percent above Macerich's stock price of $69.88 on November 18, the day before Simon disclosed a 3.6 percent holding of Macerich shares and began pressing the board for merger talks.
"Macerich's decision to adopt extreme defensive measures is disappointing," Simon chairman and chief executive David Simon said in a statement.
"We have repeatedly expressed our desire to work with Macerich to reach a mutually beneficial agreement and do not believe a protracted, multi-year proxy battle is in the interests of the shareholders of either company. We believe our offer is compelling and will deliver significant and immediate value to Macerich shareholders."
A deal would strengthen Simon as the country's largest owner and operator of shopping centers. Simon has about 182 million square feet (17 million square meters) of leasable space in 109 properties, while Macerich holds 55 million square feet in about 60 properties.
Simon owns the Premium Outlets and Mills chains of suburban malls. It also owns 18.3 percent of France's retail property power Klepierre. Macerich's mall properties are mainly in California, Arizona and the New York region.