The Real Deal New York

Ashner blasts NYRT’s board again

Activist investor complains that deal for "shareholder representation" was rejected
By Konrad Putzier | September 29, 2016 01:40PM

Steve Witkoff, One Worldwide Plaza and Michael Ashner

Steve Witkoff, One Worldwide Plaza and Michael Ashner

Another week, another argument over the future of New York REIT. Activist investors Steve Witkoff and Michael Ashner accused the real estate investment trust’s board of “muffling” their voice by refusing to give them representation.

Last month, NYRT’s board agreed to dissolve the REIT and sell its assets, following pressure from Ashner and Witkoff to do so. But in an open letter to the board’s members published Thursday morning, Ashner complained that the board rejected an agreement that would have given the two investors “shareholder representation” on the board.

“Several of the Board’s recent actions that clearly demonstrate it continues to ignore the interests of shareholders,” Ashner wrote.

Ashner, who heads Winthrop Realty Trust, and developer Steve Witkoff jointly invested in NYRT through an entity called WW Investors. The two nominated themselves to the REIT’s board in August.

Apart from seeking representation on the company’s board, Ashner also wants to make Winthrop Realty Partners NYRT’s external manager. He attached a proposed management agreement to his letter that he claims would save NYRT $50 million in “excessive advisory fees” compared to its current agreement with New York Recovery Advisory.

New York REIT had initially sought a $8.4 billion merger with Washington, D.C.-based JCG, but decided to sell its buildings one by one instead after that deal fell apart. It owns a 49 percent stake in the 1.8 million-square-foot Office Building One Worldwide Plaza and owns 1440 Broadway, among other holdings.