Brookdale Senior Living’s new CEO, Lucinda “Cindy” Baier is a “breath of fresh air,” but “she still has much to prove to the investment community to gain trust and credibility,” Jonathan Litt, founder and chief investment officer of Stamford, CT-based Land & Buildings, told members of the Brookdale Board of Directors and fellow shareholders on Friday.
“During Ms. Baier’s first 90 days as CEO, she has taken charge of the company and brought a focus to its operations, residents and employees, which we believe has been lacking at the company for a number of years,” Litt said of the Brentwood, TN-based company in a letter. “We are optimistic,” the registered investment manager’s CIO added.
On Baier’s “to-do” list, Litt said, should be revisiting “broad real estate monetizations, but not as a distraction which would divert attention from operations.”
In December 2016, he had recommended that Brookdale sell the real estate it owns, distribute the proceeds to shareholders and convert existing leases to management contracts.
Friday, he also called for company executives to continue working on Brookdale’s corporate governance and strategic direction.
In an agreement he struck with Brookdale in July, Land & Buildings agreed to support the slate of director nominees put forth by the board at Brookdale’s 2017 annual meeting, and Brookdale agreed to consult with Land & Buildings about the board’s composition before its 2018 meeting. The agreement also saw Marcus “Marc” E. Bromley join Brookdale’s Board of Directors as an independent member.
“We hope to continue to work collaboratively with the board and management team so that the company’s corporate governance is in line with best-in-class 21st-century governance,” Litt wrote Friday.
Land & Buildings is “less worried” about new supply, Litt said, because it is a factor in only 25% of the markets in which Brookdale operates. Long term, Litt predicted, senior living communities such as those owned by Brookdale will see “tremendous growth” — in fact, “amongst the best growth in the real estate industry,” as the population ages.