Transformational but a natural evolution” is how Trevor Bond, president and CEO of what is now W.P. Carey Inc., describes his company’s Sept. 28 conversion to a REIT. “Going from an LLC to a REIT is an important change in our form and structure, but it’s a natural evolution in that nothing’s changing in terms of our basic approach to the business,” Bond tells REAL ESTATE FORUM. “It gives us some additional capabilities that are very important strategically, yet with the same fundamental approach.”

That essential modus operandi was established in 1973 by Wm. Polk Carey, the late founder of what is now reportedly the world’s largest owner/manager of net-leased assets. Although Carey did not invent sale-leasebacks, having done them in one-off transactions since the 1950s, he was among the pioneers in the concept of “pools of net-leased assets held in securitized form,” says Bond. Carey did this initially through limited partnerships and later began a series of public non-traded REIT affiliates that the company manages externally, including Corporate Property Associates 15 Inc., with which W.P. Carey merged on the day it became a REIT. The merger created a company with a market capitalization of $5 billion and a net lease portfolio of more than 39 million square feet globally.

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