The Real Deal New York

New York REIT selects Wendy Silverstein-led Winthrop as external adviser

Advisory firm will oversee liquidation process set to kick off in January
By Rich Bockmann | December 19, 2016 01:10PM

From left: Michael Happel, Worldwide Plaza and Wendy Silverstein

The board of the struggling New York REIT has selected the Wendy Silverstein-led Winthrop REIT Advisors as its external manager to oversee the company’s liquidation plan.

Heeding the call of activist investors Michael Ashner and Steven Witkoff, the board voted to place Silverstein at the helm of the embattled REIT, replacing CEO Michael Happel and AR Global as the external adviser.

Silverstein served as an executive vice president at Vornado Realty Trust TRData LogoTINY before leaving in mid-2015.

Ashner, who invested in the REIT with Witkoff through an entity called WW Investors, is the CEO of Winthrop Realty Trust.

New York REIT started in 2010 as a spinoff of American Realty Capital, which later became embroiled in an accounting scandal. Investors felt that Happel’s position as the head of American Realty Capital and its various competing entities presented the potential for a conflict of interest with his role at New York REIT.

The REIT’s board reached out to 31 potential candidates and received 14 proposals before selecting Winthrop, the board said in a statement Monday.

Board chairman Randolph Read said the directors selected Winthrop “for their deep real estate background and Winthrop’s extensive experience leading companies through liquidation events, as well as the cost savings the new contract will provide the Company over its expected term.”

On Jan. 3, the REIT’s board will vote on its liquidation proposal, which is expected to be approved. New York REIT is planning to sell of its assets – which include a 49 percent stake in the 1.8-million-square-foot tower at Worldwide Plaza On Eighth Avenue – after a proposed $8.4 billion merger with Washington D.C.-area landlord JBG Companies fell apart earlier this year.