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Northwest Healthcare changes top execs, begins strategic review

Chair and CEO Paul Dalla Lana departs: Mitchell becomes CEO, Klein to head up board

Northwest Healthcare Properties REIT.

Northwest Healthcare Properties REIT (NWH-UN-T) has announced a sweeping series of changes to its senior management – including the departure of Paul Dalla Lana as CEO and chair of the board – and a strategic review of its portfolio.

The move comes a month after the REIT called off a major European joint venture and as Northwest continues to deal with a stock price in the $7 range. That is about half of where it sat in March 2022, when it hit a peak of $14.31 on the TSX.

Northwest appointed Dale Klein, formerly its lead independent trustee, as the non-executive board chair “in line with governance best practices” the announcement states.

Dalla Lana will relinquish both his long-time roles with the REIT – stepping away from the board entirely – and will focus on initiatives at Northwest Value Partners Inc., the REIT's largest shareholder.

He will be replaced as CEO on an interim basis by former president Craig Mitchell.

Reshaping the executive team

"It has been an honour to lead Northwest since the beginning," Dalla Lana said in the announcement. "I look forward to assisting Craig and the board in ensuring a smooth transition."

Trustee Laura King has been appointed chair of the REIT's compensation, governance and nominating committee. Maureen O’Connell becomes chair of the audit committee.

"On behalf of the board, we wish to thank Paul for his leadership and invaluable contributions to Northwest," Klein said in the announcement. "From establishing the REIT to taking it public in 2010 and stewarding operations across four continents, Paul has built the foundation for the business."

Mitchell joined Northwest in 2018 as CEO for Australia and New Zealand, was a member of the global management team and assumed a global leadership role with funds and operations when he was named president in 2020.

Michael Brady has been promoted to president. Brady was formerly executive vice-president, general counsel and corporate secretary. He brings decades of experience in the commercial real estate sector in Canada and globally to the new role.

Shailen Chande will continue his role as chief financial officer and will work closely on the strategic review. In addition to his experience as CFO at Northwest and its predecessor companies, Chande has worked in investment banking in the U.K. and Europe and holds a Chartered Professional Accountant certification in Canada.

Peter Riggin continues in his senior executive role.

Northwest's strategic review

Northwest also announced the formation of a committee to oversee the strategic review “to assess the best course of action for the REIT's next phase of development and growth.” 

The committee is to retain a financial advisor to assess the alternatives, though management cautions there is “no certainty” that any changes will be made.

The moves come about six weeks after Northwest announced the collapse of a proposed joint venture for its U.K. hospitals portfolio, a transaction which was valued at $276 million.

Northwest had planned to retain a 30 per cent interest in the portfolio of 14 hospitals, with the majority share being acquired by an unnamed institutional investor. The REIT would also have continued to manage the assets.

At that time, Northwest said it had previously “met with numerous qualified investors who expressed interest in a U.K. joint venture” and would continue to seek a partner to recapitalize the assets.

Northwest also discontinued its automatic dividend reinvestment plan in June.

About Northwest Healthcare Properties REIT

Northwest Healthcare Properties REIT is based in Toronto, and as of March 31 it held a diversified portfolio of 233 income-producing properties and 18.6 million square feet of gross leasable area in major markets in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. 

The REIT's portfolio includes medical office buildings, clinics and hospitals with a focus on long-term, indexed leases to tenants. 

It employs over 300 staff in 11 offices in eight countries.

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