JENKINTOWN, PA-Harold Pote, president and CEO of American Financial Realty Trust, has died suddenly and unexpectedly while vacationing in Turkey with his wife. The details of his death are unclear an AFR spokesman tells

The company’s board has established an interim office of the president, which consists of Glenn Blumenthal, COO; Edward Matey, general council; and David Nettina, CFO. They will report to the board and to Lewis Ranieri, chairman.

“It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our friend and colleague, Hal Pote,” says Ranieri in a statement. “Our whole AFR family mourns this tragic loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Pote was 60 years old. After joining the board in March 2006, he replaced Nicholas Schorsch, an AFR founder and former president, vice chairman and CEO, the following August. Within an hour of his appointment, Pote hosted a conference call with Wall Street analysts, promising to bring discipline to the company and “take it back to its roots.”

He also vowed to provide transparency in reporting and spelled out a five-point turnaround plan that called for, among other things, the disposition of up to $2 billion in assets. In subsequent conference calls, characterized by candor, he delineated the progress of the plan and on June 7, called the repositioning “a success,” while acknowledging, “there’s still some work left to do.”

Shares of AFR reached a 52-week high of $12.25 on the NYSE on Sept. 15, 2006, a month after Pote became CEO. This compares with a 52-week low of $9.59 a share on July 12, 2006. Shares opened at $10.44, little changed from the previous day, following the announcement of Pote’s death.

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