'Splitting up company' is one option for Brookdale, shareholder says

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Jonathan Litt
Jonathan Litt

“Splitting up the company,” along with joint ventures and outright sales, are options that Brookdale Senior Living's Investment Committee should evaluate to potentially maximize the value of its owned real estate, Jonathan Litt, founder and chief investment officer of Stamford, CT-based Land and Buildings Investment Management LLC, told fellow shareholders in a letter Monday.

The comment was one of several Litt made related to potential board action.

He called on Brookdale to disclose to shareholders more information about which properties are owned and which are leased. The company's recent lease restructurings with Ventas and Welltower have “removed prior obstacles to real estate monetization,” Litt said.

The Investment Committee, he added, also should evaluate strategies to further eliminate lease structures, including evaluating converting leases into management contracts.

Although Brookdale CEO Lucinda “Cindy” Baier and Chairman Lee Wielansky are “singularly focused on maximizing shareholder value” and the company is making “significant positive progress,” Litt called on the company to do more.

“With Brookdale's stock trading in the $9 - $10 range, and the real estate value of the company potentially double its stock price based on recent transaction comps and the likely bottoming of fundamentals this year, significant upside remains to be realized,” he wrote.

Litt had several additional recommendations related to the board, saying that Brookdale should not expand the body beyond nine members, should ask two long-standing members to resign and should add “at least two individuals with relevant healthcare experience and expertise in REITs, tax structuring, real estate and finance.”

He said he had made the recommendations privately to the Brookdale but that the company appears to have a “lack of urgency.”

“Unfortunately, it appears that the board has not taken steps in furtherance of implementing any of our recommendations,” Litt said.

A Brookdale spokeswoman told McKnight's Senior Living that the company had no comment on the letter.

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