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JACKSON, MS-Falling dividends to approximately $.30 per common share, down from $.325 per share in 2009, and a terminated CFO were among the topics discussed at Parkway Properties’ Q4 2008 earnings conference call. Other topics included Parkway’s move to prepare its portfolio for recovery through mitigation of risk.

The company announced on Feb. 8, through an 8K filing, that former CFO and executive vice president J. Mitchell Collins was fired, effective Feb. 5, and Mandy M. Pope promoted to interim CFO. Company president and CEO Steven G. Rogers declined to say much about the termination, only to say that Collins was not under contract, there was no “just cause” for the firing and no accounting irregularities connected with Collins, and that Parkway wished Collins the best for the future. Rogers also assured analysts that internal financial controls were still strong.

Rogers had a great deal more to say about slicing the dividend by two-and-a-half cents, however. He explained that Parkway Properties is working on improving the balance sheet to meet capital structure goals in 2009 and to provide additional capital for Texas Fund II, so the fund can take advantages of opportunities. “We look for 2010 to be a pivotal time for the company,” Rogers noted.

Rogers observed that quality property, particularly office assets, is starting to make its way to the marketplace, and Parkway Properties has been out in the playing field, making offers. “In 2009, we weren’t going to buy anything; we wanted to let the market settle out,” he remarked. He predicted that Parkway Properties would start acquiring during the second part of 2010, though acknowledged that nothing was currently under LOI or contract.

In trying to find likely assets to acquire, he continued, Parkway Properties is going through a two-pronged approach; with the first prong involving the brokerage/listing process. Then there is the second prong, what Rogers termed “outbound work,” in which Parkway Properties goes directly to sellers that have not listed the assets.

“There’s the action that doesn’t get reported in the Wall Street Journal or trade publications,” Rogers explained. “That’s where the private companies are coming out, the CMBS is getting a little messy, people are going public but have too much debt. This is where we’re spending a lot of our time, looking for assets.”

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