Keynote Presentation

Sam Zell, Chairman and Chief Executive, Equity Group Investments

Sam Zell is chairman of Equity International. He founded the Company with Gary Garrabrant in 1999. Mr. Zell has been particularly active with Equity International’s publicly held portfolio companies in which he maintains substantial interests. Three of these are listed on the New York Stock Exchange: Gafisa (GFA), a leading homebuilder in Brazil, Xinyuan (XIN), a fast-growing regional homebuilder in China, and Homex (HXM), Mexico’s leading homebuilder. A fourth, BR Malls, Brazil’s largest retail property owner and operator, is listed on the Bovespa (BZ:BRML3).


Mr. Zell’s investments span industries and continents, and include interests in finance, energy, transportation, communications, and real estate. He maintains substantial interests in, and is the chairman of, five public companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange: Equity Residential Properties Trust (EQR), the largest apartment real estate investment trust (REIT) in the United States; Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), an equity real estate investment trust that owns and operates manufactured home communities in 26 states; Capital Trust (CT), a specialized real estate finance company; Covanta Holding Corp. (CVA), an international leader in converting waste to energy; and Anixter (AXE), a value-add provider of integrated networking and cabling solutions that support business information and network infrastructure requirements.


In December 2007, Mr. Zell became chairman and chief executive officer of Tribune Company, after financing the sale of the public company to a private Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).


Previously, Mr. Zell served as chairman for Equity Office Properties Trust (EOP), the largest office REIT in the U.S. EOP was sold in February 2007 to The Blackstone Group for $39 billion in the largest private equity transaction in history at the time.


Mr. Zell is also the chairman of his private entrepreneurial investment firm, Equity Group Investments, which was the originator of three of the largest REITs in the real estate industry. He is the chairman of Equity International, a privately held, leading investor in real estate related businesses outside of the United States. Equity International originated the public offerings for three international companies in which Mr. Zell maintains substantial interests: Gafisa, the leading homebuilder in Brazil; BR Malls, one of the largest shopping center owners and operators in Brazil; and Homex, the fastest growing homebuilder in Mexico.


He serves on the JPMorgan National Advisory Board; the Eurohypo International Advisory Board; the President’s Advisory Board at the University of Michigan; the Visitor’s Committee at the University of Michigan Law School; and with the combined efforts of the University of Michigan Business School, he established the Zell/Lurie Entrepreneurial Center. Mr. Zell’s continual assistance to Michigan’s MBA program has also enhanced the Business School’s Polish Studies Program. He was appointed a DeRoy Visiting Professor in Honors at the College of Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan. He is a long-standing supporter of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Real Estate Center, and has endowed the Samuel Zell/Robert Lurie Real Estate Center at Wharton.  Mr. Zell has also endowed the Northwestern University Center for Risk Management.


A native Chicagoan, Mr. Zell is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School. He began his career in real estate while an undergraduate at the University by managing apartment buildings throughout Southeast Michigan. Mr. Zell is an avid skier, racquetball player and enjoys riding motorcycles. He is a frequent contributor of articles to various publications and is often heard as keynote speaker throughout the United States and Europe.