William Mack, Mack-Cali chairman

EDISON, NJ—Continuing with reorganization moves Wednesday, Mack-Cali Realty Corp. tapped its board member Alan S. Bernikow for a newly created position of Lead Independent Director. 

The Edison-based REIT had recently added an 11th board member, Jonathan Litt, a former Citigroup Inc. managing director and real estate analyst.  Litt was named simultaneously with the announced departures of long-time CFO Barry Lefkowitz, and general counsel Roger W. Thomas, who agreed to resign as of March 31.

Bernikow currently chairs Mack-Cali’s audit committee and is a member of its executive committee.

“We regularly review evolving corporate governance standards and determined that the establishment of the Lead Independent Director role is in the best interests of Mack-Cali and its shareholders,” said Mack-Cali’s board chairman William L. Mack.

“We are pleased that Al is taking on this additional responsibility and believe that his strong leadership, considerable board experience and personal commitment to the company make him ideally suited to this new position,” Mack said.
 

The Lead Independent Director will, among other things, preside at executive sessions of the independent directors, and manage communications among and between board committees and individual directors, including Mack and company CEO Mitchell E. Hersh.

Mack-Cali has been going through the throes of a strategic repositioning for several years now, selling off non-core office properties and investing in multi-family properties and development.  In the last year, shareholder profits were sharply down and the reorganization was announced promptly after 4th quarter results.

The REIT currently owns or has interests in 279 properties – 267 office and office/flex properties totaling approximately 31 million square feet, and 12 multi-family rental properties containing over 3,600 residential units, all located in the Northeast.

Bernikow is a retired deputy CEO of Deloitte & Touche. He left in 2003 after 37 years at the accounting firm and is also a former principal at K2Global Consulting. Bernikow currently serves as a director or trustee of 13 investment companies (consisting of 45 portfolios) managed or advised by UBS Global AM.

 

When Litt was named, reports noted that last year he led a push to have the BRE Properties REIT in San Francisco consider a takeover and offered to buy it, backed by an investment group. In December, BRE was acquired by Essex Property Trust.

In connection with joining the Mack-Cali board, Litt agreed to support Mack-Cali’s slate of directors in 2014 and 2015, according to a public filing. Other current board members are Kenneth M. Duberstein, Nathan Gantcher, David S. Mack, Alan G. Philibosian, Irvin D. Reid, Vincent Tese and Roy J. Zuckerberg.