Ending one of real estate’s most protracted takeover battles, Judge Allan Gropper, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, agreed Friday to allow Chicago-based General Growth Properties, a mall real estate investment trust, to partner with Brookfield Asset Management of Toronto in an $8.5 billion reorganization plan.

The decision sets Brookfield as the “stalking horse” bidder, and ends an aggressive takeover attempt by GGP’s main retail rival, Simon Property Group of Indianapolis. Simon announced a last-ditch offer late Thursday night of $20 a share to take over GGP, even though General Growth hasn’t seen that price since late 2008. GGP’s stock closed Friday at $14.13 a share.

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