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Barron's enthrones Simon among world's best CEOs

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Already one of the most highly regarded CEOs in Indiana and in his industry, David Simon now is keeping company with the likes of Warren Buffett, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Larry Page of Google.

Business publication Barron’s has named Simon, the CEO of Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc., to its annual list of the world’s 30 best chief executives, published in its Monday issue. Simon is one of 13 new names in the ninth annual inventory.

“Shrewd acquisitions and development projects have transformed Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group from a regional mall operator into the world’s largest real estate company, with a $50 billion market value and market-shellacking returns,” according to Simon’s profile in Barron’s.

In the five years since the depths of the real estate crisis, shares of Simon Property Group have risen 68 percent. The stock hovered near $160 per share on Monday morning.

The 51-year-old Simon led the family company’s $1 billion initial public offering in 1993. He’s been the CEO since 1995, and has orchestrated more than $25 billion in acquisitions. Simon’s 2004 acquisition of outlet-mall specialist Chelsea Property Group was “the smartest deal ever” among real estate investment trusts, according to Mike Kirby, chairman of REIT research specialist Green Street Advisors.

Other high-profile CEOs on the Barron’s list include Yan Yuanqing of Lenovo, Hugh Grant of Monsanto, and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, in addition to Buffett, Bezos and Page.

The Barron’s piece mentions that Simon has absorbed criticism for his extravagant compensation package.

In recognition of the company’s blistering performance under Simon’s watch, the company’s board in 2011 granted him $120 million in restricted stock. He can collect the full grant, on top of his regular compensation, if he stays with Simon until mid-2019.

In August 2012, a major shareholder filed suit against the board for improperly increasing Simon’s compensation without seeking shareholder approval. The suit came more than two months after Simon officials disclosed that 73 percent of the Simon shares voted at the company’s annual meeting opposed the granting of the $120 million retention award.

The recognition in Barron’s is just the latest accolade for Simon, who earlier this year was ranked eighth among the best-performing CEOs in the world by Harvard Business Review.

Fortune named Simon Property Group as the “most admired company” in the real estate industry earlier this month.
 

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