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CHICAGO-First Industrial Realty Trust Inc. released its Q4 and year-end earnings report Tuesday, posting heavy losses last quarter. The dip in Q4 was a result of several charges including shuttering its European facilities and reducing office staffing.

The diluted net income for Q4 was $1.66 per common share, compared to $1.00 in Q4 2007. The REIT posted a net loss of $67.4 million in the final quarter, compared to a net income of $48.3 million. During this quarter, First Industrial completed $23.6 million in acquisitions, sold $24.3 million of properties; and through joint ventures made $19.4 million of acquisitions and $32.9 million of dispositions.

At year end, common shares were $0.50, compared to $2.99 per share in 2007.

“The First Industrial team delivered solid portfolio results in 2008, maintaining strong tenant retention and in-service occupancy levels throughout the year,” says Bruce Duncan, president and CEO, who was just appointed to his position in January. “In this difficult economic climate, we are intensely focused on occupancy for our entire portfolio of existing and value-add properties. We are also restructuring our organization as part of our plan to improve our operational efficiency and right-size our cost structure.”

As part of the restructuring plan Johannson Yap will head First Industrial’s West region, David Harker will lead the central region and Peter Schultz will take the reins of the East region. As a result of the restructuring and cost reduction plan First Industrial reduced its annual expenses by roughly $47 million, a 56% decrease compared to 2008.

“We are restructuring the organization to place responsibility for operations and profitability squarely on our three geographic regions – East, West and Central,” Duncan says. “By driving responsibility to each region, we will get the best out of a talented team of local market experts that serve all aspects of our customers’ industrial real estate needs. Also, with these changes, we have been able to further reduce staffing levels and other overhead, which is critical as we navigate through these difficult times.”

First Industrial has $150 million of debt set to mature through 2010, with 96% of its assets unencumbered by mortgages. In addition, Scott Musil, CFO, says, “”In June 2009, we have $125 million of senior notes due that we expect to retire through a combination of mortgage financing, asset sales, and available cash.”

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