SANTA MONICA, Calif. - Macerich Co., owner of Green Acres Mall, Tuesday rejected an unsolicited takeover bid of more than $20 billion from Roosevelt Field mall owner Simon Property Group Inc., saying it substantially undervalues the company.

Macerich also took measures to thwart its competitor, including staggering the election of directors, which would make it more difficult to oust the board, and adopting a "poison pill" defense that raises the price Simon would have to pay because more shares of Macerich would be issued.

"After careful consideration," Macerich's board unanimously determined that the offer "fails to reflect the full value of our portfolio of unique and irreplaceable assets and our positive growth prospects," a statement from chairman and CEO Arthur Coppola said.

Simon, the largest U.S. mall owner, announced its $91-a-share offer on March 9, after being rebuffed by Santa Monica, California-based Macerich privately. Shares of Macerich have climbed above that price, closing Monday at $94.89, indicating investors expect a higher bid, although the stock closed Tuesday at $91.60.

"There can be a bidding war," said Mario Asaro, president of Industry One Realty Corp., a commercial real estate firm based in Melville. "Simon seems to be aggressively interested and will continue to pursue the property. If it is a hostile takeover, I can't see Macerich having much of a choice."

Macerich, which owns or has stakes in more than 50 malls, has announced plans for a $163-million expansion and renovation at Green Acres Mall, its only Long Island property. It also owns the Queens Center Mall and the Shops at Atlas Park, both in Queens, and Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Brooklyn.

The local impact of a potential deal is minimal, Asaro said. "In any case, Green Acres will survive. If you live in that area, you don't have much choice if you want to go to brick and mortar stores."

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In addition to Roosevelt Field, Simon owns Walt Whitman Shops and Smith Haven Mall.

With Aisha Al-Muslim