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Firm Capital seeks new CEO, direction for U.S. unit

In what is expected to be a short-term appointment, Robert McKee has been named interim president...

In what is expected to be a short-term appointment, Robert McKee has been named interim president and chief executive of Firm Capital American Realty Partners Corp. (TSXV: FCA.U).

Firm Capital NARPIt’s another Firm Capital corporate hat for McKee to wear as he is already president and CEO and trustee of Firm Capital Property Trust as well as the CEO, Real Estate for the Firm Capital Organization.

“It is just an interim thing, deal with a little bit of the cleanup and then we will move on to bringing in someone who is a long term person on that front,” said McKee, who was formerly an executive with TD Securities Inc.’s real estate investment banking group.

The job ahead

McKee hopes that over the next six month the company will find a CEO with U.S. real estate experience to steer Firm Capital American Realty Partners Corp. into a new direction.

Just what that is was teased out in a recent announcement: a US$7.5 million 50-50 joint venture investment in New York will consist of eight multi-family buildings made up of 127 residential units and two commercial units with a local partner.

“That investment is more of the style of things that we are going to do going forward in the U.S. It is much more going to be looking at partnering with strong local players in each of the markets and we will be more of an equity player and co-invest with someone that has significant experience in that market and is able to drive the maximum value out of each investment.”

Right deals, right time in the U.S.

The biggest job at the U.S. unit is disposing of the large, legacy portfolio of single family homes that are clustered in Atlanta (about 200), and another 120 homes in “mini-multi” buildings in New Jersey. (The company recently sold a significant portion of its single family portfolio that was located in Florida and Georgia.)

What Firm Capital is retaining is a portfolio of mini-multi properties in South Florida and a multi-residential building in the state as well as two multi-residential buildings in the Austin, Texas market.

Going forward, McKee sees a focus on making the right deals at the right time.

“In our typical fashion, we are going to be entrepreneurial and we are going to be opportunistic and look at each opportunity as it presents itself. But we will be focused on investments around major metropolitan areas and probably for the most part stick with the eastern seaboard and with Texas. Generally it is going to be multi-family.”

Also expect more of a focus on lending in the States, “similar to what Firm Capital MIC does here.”

He anticipates that Firm Capital will be busy in the U.S. “In the U.S. market we are seeing a lot more opportunities that fit our investment criteria than we are seeing in the Canadian market. So from an acquisition standpoint I think that market is a little bit more robust.

“But it is a different market. These aren’t all high cash flowing stable properties. These are properties where the plan is to do various things but a lot are repositioning, capital investment type opportunities where you are going to be injecting capital and looking to get a substantial increase in rental rates on these residential units as you get turnover in the units.”

That means the U.S. plan “is going to be much more of a growth strategy than a cash flow strategy.”

Beyond the January appointment of McKee as interim president and CEO, the U.S. unit announced Sandy Poklar would make room by stepping aside as president/CEO to assume the role of chief financial officer. He replaces Stuart Pasternak who resigned from that position.

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