The CEO waiting game

Crunching the numbers on succession plans at NYC real estate firms

Jun.June 17, 2019 02:45 PM
Vornado CEO Steve Roth and Macklowe Properties founder Harry Macklowe (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

Vornado CEO Steve Roth and Macklowe Properties founder Harry Macklowe (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

Unlike other major industries such as Wall Street, where shareholder pressure, influential boards and intense media scrutiny have forced firms to take succession planning seriously, real estate continues to operate on the Great Man theory: Founders have almost complete control over their companies, and their substantial egos often prevent them from designating an heir apparent.

Why bother worrying about who comes after you when you expect to live forever? Many longstanding real estate chiefs and company founders are running the show well past average retirement age. Here’s a look at some noteworthy company and CEO-related numbers.

Read the full story “Heirs unapparent” here


The current age of Vornado Chair and CEO Steven Roth. Roth has repeatedly resisted investor pressures to establish a clear succession plan at the public company he founded in 1982 — even after heart surgery in 2017. But the REIT recently named Michael Franco as president and Glen Weiss and Barry Langer as co-heads of real estate, setting up a more concrete leadership structure down the road.


The current age of SL Green Realty Chair and CEO Marc Holliday. SL Green has had a much more straightforward succession plan than Vornado. Holliday has run the business since 2004 as its chief executive, and he officially replaced founder Stephen Green as chairman of the board when Green retired in January.

13M Sq. Ft.

The estimated size of developer Harry Macklowe’s real estate portfolio. The 81-year-old founder of Macklowe Properties is still without an established successor to take the reins after him —partially due to longstanding tensions with his son, Billy Macklowe.


The year the Elghanayans divided up their $3 billion real estate empire to help avoid family drama and succession conflicts. Henry Elghanayan kept the Rockrose Development name, while his brothers Tom and Fred Elghanayan launched TF Cornerstone.

11 years

Average U.S. CEO tenure, up from 7.2 years in 2009, according to a study last year by the Conference Board and executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. Around 10 percent of American CEOs are 65 or older — above the average retirement age of 62.

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