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WP Carey founder dies

WP Carey & Co, the real estate investment management firm with a particular focus on sale and leaseback transactions, started the New Year on a sour note after its founder died yesterday.


William Polk Carey, the founder the world’s largest real estate sale and leaseback specialist WP Carey & Co, died yesterday.

Carey was 81 years old when he passed away in a hospital in Florida. According to an announcement by the firm he died of natural causes. He was survived by his brother Francis Carey and numerous nieces and nephews.

“We mourn with great sadness our founder and chairman Wm Polk Carey,” the firm said on a specially constructed home page for the company’s website.

Paying tribute to the man who founded the company in 1973, chief executive officer Trevor Bond said: “Bill Carey was more than our founder and chairman – he was the cultural leader of our company. All of us at WP Carey & Co are mourning his loss.”

Since beginning the business nearly 40 years ago, WP Carey has grown to manage an investment portfolio valued of approximately $11.8 billion. Under his 38-year leadership the firm has become the largest sale and leaseback real estate investment firm globally. Today, it manages almost 1,000 commercial and industrial properties, reflecting about 120 million square feet of real estate.

Standout transactions during his tenure included the 2009 acquisition of 21 floors of the New York Times Building on 8th Avenue in New York’s Manhattan for $225 million in a sale and leaseback transaction which saw the world famous newspaper’s publisher sign a 15-year lease.

Another of WP Carey’s standout transactions was 1982’s sale and leaseback of Gibson’s Greeting Cards office and manufacturing properties, a deal which enabled the leveraged buyout of the company from RCA by former secretary of the treasury William Simon and his company Wesray.

Further notable sale and leasebacks executed by WP Carey include transactions with Google, U-Haul and JPMorgan Chase.

In a published life profile of the man, New York-listed WP Carey said, under his stewardship, it had provided its investors with an increased dividend each year and over 43 consecutive quarters since the firm was taken public in 1998. In total, the firm has paid out more than $3.8 billion to investors over 840 cash distributions.

While best known for his formation and leadership of WP Carey, ex-military man Carey previously also invested in and sold other things including soda, ink and second hand refrigerators. He began to make a name for himself in the automobile industry where eventually, through his company International Leasing, he became the second largest dealer of Peugeot cars in the country.  That is where he discovered value in lease financing and a road that ultimately led to the formation of WP Carey.

The firm also celebrated Carey’s WP Carey Foundation, a charitable entity used to support educational institutions in the US. In the profile, the firm said Carey’s support of the country’s education sector was a family tradition that goes back to General Leonidas Polk and his grandmother Ann e Galbraith Carey, both of which supported various educational institutions. His entire stock holding in the company will now be donated to the foundation, the firm said.

Francis Carey, his brother and company co-founder, said: “Bill was not only an insightful businessman but a wonderful brother and a good citizen. He always felt grateful that he was raised in a family committed to public service – and he worked passionately to uphold that tradition.”

WP Carey announced two days later that it had hired Bejamin Griswold as non-executive chairman.