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Tom Barrack's Colony Capital Scrambles To Recover From Disastrous Merger

One of President Donald Trump's biggest backers from the world of commercial real estate is struggling to recover from a merger that has torpedoed his finances.


Tom Barrack, executive chairman and founder of Colony Capital — formerly Colony NorthStar before the board of directors approved the name change in June — said on a Q4 earnings call in March the company has struggled in the wake of its merger with NorthStar Realty Finance and NorthStar Asset Management.

"The results have been disappointing, and that's the bottom line," Barrack said. "I am 100% focused and still one of the large personal shareholders of this company, it’s [the] majority of my personal net worth, it’s the dominant factor in my and my family’s pride, reputation and future, and I don’t intend to leave it tainted or unattended."

Those disappointing results included a 60% decline in share value since Colony NorthStar debuted on the market last year, Forbes reports. During the earnings call, CEO Richard Saltzman reported that the company's year-end funds from operations were $1.16 per share, well below the minimum of $1.55 per share Colony NorthStar predicted at the start of the year.

The company attributed its struggles to a combination of underperforming assets that NorthStar brought into the new company and disappointing returns on its investments in healthcare real estate and senior housing. Those issues have reduced the value of Barrack's equity investment in Colony Northstar from $400M to $178M, Forbes reports. 


Another cause for the new company's tough start, according to Saltzman, has been its longer-than-expected integration.

That process is largely complete now with a new unified headquarters at 590 Madison Ave. in Manhattan (next door to Trump Tower) and the NorthStar name dropped from signage. Now, the reborn Colony Capital is getting down to the business of refocusing its investments.

During its Q1 earnings call in May, Saltzman laid out a plan to liquidate secondary interests in private equity funds, collateralized debt obligations and any other assets Colony deems not part of its core strategy.

As for spending, Saltzman told investors that a significant sum would be deployed in renovating a large portfolio of hotel properties NorthStar brought into the merger, with the goal of boosting their value and selling them off.

Saltzman also mentioned a $350M multifamily portfolio in which Colony has preferred equity invested, which could become a larger component of the REIT strategically, if not monetarily.

"We still would like to try to figure out a way to restructure that [equity], so that it could potentially become a new strategic third-party capital vehicle focused on the multifamily sector," Saltzman said.

CORRECTION, JULY 10, 6:33 P.M. ET: A previous version of this story misstated Colony Capital’s name. The company changed its name in June. The story and headline have been updated.