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CHICAGO-Following a one-month stock drop from more than $30 a share to just more than $10 a share, First Industrial Realty Trust Inc. president and CEO Mike Brennan resigned Wednesday. He had been with the REIT since its creation in 1994. Company Board of Directors member Ed Tyler has stepped into the role of lead director and will act as interim CEO until a search for Brennan’s successor is complete. The search will be conducted by a committee of First Industrial’s Board.

Some employees found out about the move Wednesday evening. “I really like Mike, and I hate to see him go. I think he’s a great guy,” an employee, who did not wish to be named, tells GlobeSt.com.

Tyler said in a statement that the company will consider both internal and external candidates for the position. “We are focused on selecting a candidate with the right combination of leadership, vision and commitment to guide the Company to realize its corporate objectives in this challenging market,” Tyler said. “First Industrial’s portfolio continues to perform well in a difficult market, its balance sheet remains strong with one of the industry’s longest weighted average debt maturity schedules and less than $135 million maturing through the end of 2010, and the company has a significant amount of capital capacity for investment through its institutional joint ventures.”

Jay H. Shidler, chairman of the Board, said in the statement that the company decided to replace Brennan as CEO because they believe the move could improve the company’s performance. The company will discuss the changes to its executive management team at greater length during a conference call, originally planned to be conducted by Brennan, scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 30.

Brennan and the executives named above were not available for comment Wednesday. The Midwest trust is mostly known for its strong holdings and development of industrial properties around the world. Just a few months ago, the trust announced it was expanding its presence further into European markets, opening offices in Paris and Dusseldorf. Last month, the company also extended its $5 billion joint ventures with California State Teachers’ Retirement System through the end of 2018. The ventures mostly had 10-year terms and were started at various times throughout the past few years, with industrial properties spread throughout the US, Canada and Europe.

However, after hitting almost $35 a share in mid-September, the stock started falling along with the rest of the market, closing at $10.17 per share at the close Wednesday. Analysts panned the stock earlier this month when Brennan, claiming that the credit crunch and economic downturn had hurt sales and gains, downgraded the REIT’s earnings projections for 2008 and 2009.

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