Thompson hits back at Grubb & Ellis

The founder of private real estate firm Thompson National Properties, Anthony Thompson, has fired his own letter off to Grubb & Ellis shareholders, after the group accused him launching a proxy contest. Thompson says he is 'dismayed' over the group's performance over the past nine months.

Anthony Thompson, the founder of the private real estate firm, Thompson National Properties (TNP), has hit back at accusations by his former employer, Grubb & Ellis, that he is trying to wrest back control of the company saying it had “lost its way”.

Grubb & Ellis yesterday accused Thompson of launching a proxy contest to take control of the real estate investment firm – and alleged that Thompson wants the firm to take over his new operation, TNP.

The claims were contained in a letter from Grubb & Ellis to shareholders, however today, in his own letter to shareholders, Thompson said his campaign was driven by “dismay” of the company’s performance over the past nine months.

Calling for the election of himself and two other real estate executives to the Grubb & Ellis board, Thompson said corporate governance standards needed to be reviewed, along with reform of executive compensation and management accountability.

Thompson left Grubb & Ellis at the start of the year to set up TNP after being Grubb & Ellis chairman for just three months from December 2007. He was appointed chairman following Grubb & Ellis' merger with NNN Realty Advisors, which Thompson founded, earlier last year. As Grubb & Ellis’ second largest shareholder, Thompson has put the firm under increasing pressure of late.

Grubb & Ellis said in its shareholder letter that Thompson’s campaign was a “blatant attempt” to get himself re-elected to the board and “ultimately take control of” the company. “Furthermore, we believe Mr. Thompson may intend to cause [Grubb & Ellis] to either buy or absorb his fledgling company.”

Grubb & Ellis have called instead for the reappointment of three independent board directors at the firm’s annual general meeting next month, including Devin Murphy, managing partner of the retail-focused private equity firm, Coventry Real Estate Advisors, and Fleet Wallace, co-founder of McCann Realty Partners, the apartment investment firm that sponsors the two Silver-McCann Apartment funds.