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Levering Down

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Levering Down
The staff at First Industrial has been resilient the last few years, and CEO Bruce Duncan says the Chicago-based industrial REIT has reduced its senior debt by more than $200M since the beginning of 2009, with now just $225M through 2012, down from $728M.
 
First Industrial's Bruce Duncan
Bruce joined the company in last year to help delever the company's balance sheet, which he and the team are working on by  selling off assets and raising equity. The REIT still owns 800 properties nationwide, and owns and manages 6.5M SF  in the Chicago area. With the portfolio about 82% leased,  getting occupancy up is the next big goal for First Industrial. Bruce says the industrial sector hasn't seen the distress that some other property types have, so the REIT won't be acquiring until they see the perfect opportunity.
First Industrial's Bruce Duncan
Bruce has a broad background, working for companies as diverse as Starwood HotelsEquity Residential, and JMB. He finds industrial an interesting product type because the transactions are â€œbite-sized”—it's easier to find lenders as well as users or investors willing to spend $1M to $10M on a warehouse property than $50M plus on a downtown office or a regional mall. Bruce says that while First Industrial still has a ways to go on delevering, the qualified people at the company are getting the job done. After having seen a lot of cutbacks, they're determined to get back on top, he adds.