NEW YORK - Macy's Inc would see only minimal impact from a purchase of bankrupt General Growth Properties Inc by its larger rival, Simon Property Group Inc, said Terry Lundgren, chief executive officer of the department store chain.

A number of smaller retailers have expressed concerns that a combination of the two largest U.S. mall operators could set the stage for higher rents. Simon has bid for General Growth, which has spurned that offer and is looking at others.

Lundgren said on Thursday that Macy's clout as the anchor tenant at hundreds of malls owned by both companies would not be diminished if the two companies merge.

Our rents are very low, Lundgren added, explaining that Macy's stores draws shoppers to the benefit of the mall owners and other, smaller tenants.

The malls would have a very hard time if we leave, Lundgren said at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch investor conference in New York that was webcast.

Simon last month offered to buy General Growth out of bankruptcy for $10 billion.

But General Growth has set forth a competing plan to emerge from bankruptcy, under which William Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management and fund manager Fairholme Capital Management would invest up to $3.93 billion.

That plan has backing from Canada's Brookfield Asset Management Inc. Pershing Square is General Growth's largest shareholder, and Fairholme its largest debtholder.

On Thursday, the CEO of Simon said General Growth's plan lacked certainty, despite the new financial backing.

General Growth filed for bankruptcy last April in the biggest real estate failure in U.S history.

Shares of Macy's were up 0.4 percent at $21.02 in midday trading. (Reporting by Phil Wahba; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)