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HOUSTON-Moving forward with its Vision 2010 strategy, AmREIT’s board of trust managers approved the company’s privatization through withdrawal of its class A common shares from being listed on the NYSE Euronext Exchange. The company anticipates the shares will stop trading on or after December 19.

As part of the process, the company has filed a notice of withdrawal of listing of its shares with the NYSE Euronext Exchange. According to a company announcement, AmREIT also will file a Notification of Removal from Listing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on or after December 11.

Upon cessation of trade, the REIT’s class A common shares will be non-traded. AmREIT will remain an SEC reporting company and plans to continue paying dividends on all classes of its shares.

AmREIT CEO H. Kerr Taylor says the delisting follows on the first phase of the company’s Vision 2010 strategy, geared to boost growth on its portfolio during difficult financial times. “For several years we believe there has been a substantial disconnect between the underlying value of our portfolio of Irreplaceable Corner properties and the market price of our stock,” Kerr explains in the company’s release. Representatives from AmREIT could not be reached by deadline.

The publicly-traded shares carry a float value of less than $13 million at the current price and extremely low trading volume where small orders disproportionately affect the price of the stock, Kerr explains. As a result, the value reflected in the class A market price doesn’t adequately reflect AmREIT’s intrinsic value. “The public float represents only approximately 20% of our total capital,” he comments. “We are also bearing ever-increasing hard and soft costs of being an exchange-traded REIT.”

AmREIT announced in its third quarter conference call on November 6 that the first phase of Vision 2010, eliminating areas in the company that were contributing to volatility, had been completed during Q3 2008. “During the past six months we took some difficult but necessary steps to become more efficient by eliminating two businesses within our company,” Taylor notes. “Through these ‘phase one’ steps we have cut our overhead by 50% and dramatically reduced our need for transactional income. This restructuring has created a more stable company with less volatile earnings and cash flow.”

Taylor notes that the second phase and its accompanying de-listing process from public trading will allow AmREIT to simplify its capital structure. This will help build more value in the company’s portfolio of irreplaceable corners and will help put the REIT in a better position to help boost liquidity, either through re-listing on a major stock exchange, working with large institutional investors or even launching an IPO. “All of this, or course, will depend on the ability of our nation to navigate the financial crisis that our country now faces,” Taylor acknowledges.

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