CHICAGO—The full slate of CommonWealth REIT trustees put forth by shareholders Related Fund Management LLC and Corvex Management LP has been elected. Led by industry icon Sam Zell as chairman, the new slate replaces the office REIT’s existing board, which a majority of shareholders voted to remove this past March. The REIT is now headquartered in Chicago, rather than Newton, MA, where erstwhile external manager REIT Management & Research LLC is based.
Along with Zell, CWH’s new board includes James Corl, Edward Glickman, David Helfand, Peter Linneman, Jim Lozier and Kenneth Shea. The new trustees were voted onto the board at a special shareholders’ meeting in Boston.
Helfand is taking the role of CEO, while also succeeding managing trustee Adam Portnoy as CWH’s president and taking the roles of acting CFO and acting treasurer. David Weinberg has been named the REIT’s EVP and COO, while Orrin Shifrin has come aboard an EVP, general counsel and secretary. Portnoy and his father, company founder Barry Portnoy, had been managing trustees of CWH’s board until their removal.
“We are appreciative of the overwhelming support of CommonWealth’s shareholders who voted to endorse the vision and experience of this new board and management team,” says Zell, who last chaired an office REIT in 2007, when he sold Equity Office Properties to the Blackstone Group. “With our team in place, we can get to work executing on our goal to create long-term value for our shareholders.”
The vote caps a 15-month campaign by Corvex and Related to install a new board at CWH. The two companies, which own a combined 9.6% share of CWH stock, had contended that the close relationship between CWH and RMR—also controlled by the Portnoys—undermined shareholder value. The REIT’s annual meeting, originally slated for June 13, has been pushed back to June 30, and will be held in Chicago.