Bright Future For Zell and CommonWealth
CommonWealth REIT will soon call Chicago home, after shareholders voted in a new board, including Sam Zell as chairman, last week. This caps off Corvex Management and Related Cos' year-plus efforts to unseat the troubled REIT’s management and appoint new trustees, and the company’s outlook is far brighter for it, Green Street Advisors managing director Jim Sullivan tells us. “The portfolio will be run by an experienced office team whose financial interests are fully aligned with shareholders,” Jim says, including David Helfand, co-president of Equity Group Investments, as president, CEO, and acting CFO and treasurer.
This is Zell’s first big foray into the highly competitive office market since successfully selling out Equity Office Properties Trust in ’07. Many properties in the 37M SF CommonWealth portfolio are in markets where owners have little pricing power, Jim tells us. He predicts the portfolio composition will look quite different three to five years from now as the new management team sells out of some metros and reinvests in others. In Chicago, the company owns 233 N Michigan (above), 600 W Chicago, and 111 E Wacker, which we expect could sell for a hefty profit to local or international players in today’s frothy downtown office market.