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CENTURY CITY, CA-One of the obvious questions that arose with the recent death of George Smith, the founder of George Smith Partners, was what will become of the company that Smith founded in 1992 and built into one of the industry’s preeminent investment banking firms. The answer is that George Smith Partners will continue on the path established by Smith and will expand into new offices near the firm’s headquarters here.

“All six partners have sat down together and have agreed that we are going to keep things going pretty much as they have been,” Smith EVP Gary Tenzer tells GlobeSt.com. “We really like the platform that we’ve created here, which was George’s vision.” Tenzer says that a number of people have asked if the partners plan to change the name of the firm. The answer is an emphatic “No way!” the Smith EVP says.

The partners have not only demonstrated their commitment to Smith’s vision by signing a lease to relocate to larger offices in Century City, Tenzer says, they have also made a commitment to continue the philanthropic tradition that Smith established. Already, they are planning the 12th annual George Smith Partners A-T Medical Research Foundation real estate luncheon for the fall of 2006.

The A-T event, which attracts more than 1,700 attendees in the commercial real estate, finance and business world, raises funds for the A-T Medical Research Foundation, which George and his wife Pamela founded to fund genetic research for Ataxia Telangiectasia (A-T). A-T is a rare genetic disorder that affects Smith’s daughter Becca and many other children.

The company’s six partners have signed a long-term lease for 13,000 sf of space on the 27th floor of Constellation Place in Century City, which will be an expansion of 30% to 40% from the firm’s existing offices nearby in Century City, Tenzer tells GlobeSt.com. GSP, which is on track for a record year of $3.3 billion in production in 2005, expects to move into the new space in the spring.

The company, which has satellite offices in Newport Beach and Anchorage, has continued its expansion with the opening this year of an office in Spokane. “We are very actively looking to bring in new talent, and we want to continue to grow the company in George’s image,” Tenzer says. He adds, “We’re very happy with the rate at which the company has grown, and we will open offices only when we have the right person.”

George Smith Partners has continued to grow every year in terms of the number of transactions closed, volume of financing arranged and number of employees, which now stands at 46 full-time people, including 34 professionals. As it grows, the firm is “dedicated to upholding the high standards of professionalism, integrity and financing creativity that George set for the firm,” according to Steve Bram, president of George Smith Partners.

Besides Tenzer and Bram, the six GSP partners include Gary Mozer, CEO; Lee Norman, SVP; David Rifkind, director of GSP/Rifkind Capital Advisors; and Michael Gottlieb, SVP. Tenzer and Bram have long attended to the administrative side of the business, the Smith EVP says, explaining that Smith himself much preferred to work on deals.

“George was the ultimate deal guy. He loved being involved in deals,” says Tenzer, who delivered the eulogy at the memorial service for Smith, which was attended by more than 1,000. The Smith Partners EVP spent more than 27 years working with George Smith, whose own career spanned more than 40 years before his death Nov. 3 from cancer.

Besides continuing to grow and to support the charitable traditions that Smith established, Tenzer tells GlobeSt.com that the six partners are committed to maintaining the corporate culture that Smith created. “We have a cooperative culture here, where if someone sends out a voice mail or an email asking for help on a deal, they’ll get back five messages within 10 minutes,” Tenzer says.

In addition, Tenzer says, “George fostered a lot of warmth and family feeling in the company, and that’s something we want to continue.” Both Tenzer and CEO Mozer point out that Smith was a mentor to all of the firm’s principals and encouraged them to do the same with others. “George created a culture of mentoring the firm’s young brokers, which we still advocate and uphold today,” Mozer says.

Smith’s influence and reputation extended beyond the firm he founded and throughout the industry, notes Tenzer, who says that one measure of his mentor’s accomplishments was the attendance at the memorial service, where “a who’s who of the real estate industry” turned out to pay tribute to a man who became an industry legend, a philanthropist and one of the most admired figures in the region’s commercial real estate world.

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