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CHICAGO-First Industrial Realty Trust has hired a new president and CEO, replacing Mike Brennan, who resigned in October. The industrial REIT hired Bruce Duncan, chairman of the Board at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., based in White Plains, NY. Duncan will remain at his Starwood post, and will earn a base salary of $800,000 a year for his four-year contract with First Industrial, as well as one million shares of the REIT’s stock, at least $1.2 million in bonuses each year and other benefits, including an $800 per month car allowance.

W. Ed Tyler, who served as interim CEO since Brennan’s resignation, has been named chairman of First Industrial’s Board of Directors. He will no longer have any executive duties at the company. Jay Shidler has stepped aside as chairman, though he will remain on the Board and will serve as the chairman of the company’s Investment Committee.

Duncan said in a statement that he’s excited about his future with First Industrial. “The company’s weighted average long-term debt maturity is more than seven years, one of the best in the REIT industry, and it has less than $150 million of debt maturing through the end of 2010,” he said in the statement. Duncan did not return a request for comment.

The company, known as one of the strongest industrial property owners and developers in the country, went through tough times as the economy tanked in October, with the REIT losing 66% of its stock value, down to $7.46 per share at noon today. The trust responded by laying off staff, including the elimination of European operations. Mike Havala, CFO, resigned in mid-December.

Duncan has worked in real estate management and investment for 30 years. He’s served with Starwood since 2005, and before that was CEO of Chicago-based Equity Residential, an apartment REIT. He’s also served on the Board of Governors for the National Association of Real Estate Trusts and the National Multi-Housing Council, and was a past trustee of the International Council of Shopping Centers. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and an economics degree from Kenyon College.

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