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GREENWICH, CT-Mercury Real Estate Advisors, an affiliate of real estate investment management firm Mercury Partners LLC based here, sent a letter to the board of directors of Wilshire Enterprises Inc. of Newark criticizing the company’s turnaround strategy.Mercury owns 14.6% of Wilshire, a company listed on the American Stock Exchange that owns and manages real estate investments in the US, including the Sunbelt states of Arizona, Florida and Texas.In a joint letter to the Wilshire board, Mercury CEO David R. Jarvis and president Malcolm F. MacLean IV stated their displeasure with the company’s direction ever since Wilshire announced plans to either pursue a sale of the company, a merger or acquisition of another company or companies in January 2004. “After nearly two years, the company’s slow growth in selling assets is disgraceful and the strategic direction of the company appears confused and unguided,” the letter states. “We believe there should be a heightened sense of urgency to immediately liquidate the company.”

They add, “Under no circumstances should any of the sales proceeds be reinvested in new assets–instead…this tiny company with its enormous and disproportionate overhead must be liquidated immediately to maximize shareholder value.”

A spokesperson for Wilshire Enterprises said the firm could not comment at this time regarding Mercury’s letter. On Oct. 25, Wilshire entered a definitive agreement to sell the Wilshire Grand Hotel and Banquet Facility in West Orange, NJ to an investor group for $12.75 million. That deal is expected to close in December. The company also announced that day that it had listed for sale the Wellington Estates and Summercreek Apartments, two multifamily properties in San Antonio. Wilshire also entered into contracts on two other New Jersey-based assets–Galsworthy Arms Condominiums and the Rutherford Bank Branch. In August the company announced plans to sell all of its real estate assets in New Jersey.

Wilshire chairman and CEO Sherry Wilzig Izak commented on Oct. 25 that its actions were “indicative of the company’s previously stated objective to optimize the valuation of its diverse asset base. Over the past year, the company has been investing in and repositioning select assets in anticipation of a potential divestiture of these assets at an improved valuation,” she said. “As we continue to improve and then sell non-core assets, and potentially reinvest proceeds in assets located in our core markets, we hope to transform the company’s real estate portfolio from a diverse array of assets in many markets to a geographically concentrated portfolio of premium assets.”

In May, Wilshire announced revenues from operations in the first quarter of 2005, ended March 31 were $2.25 million as compared to nearly $2.43 million a year earlier. Wilshire posted a loss of $102,000 for the quarter as compared to $351,000 in income for the first quarter of 2004.

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