Sam Zell, billionaire real estate mogul, dies at 81
Zell was an active philanthropist with a focus on entrepreneurial education
Billionaire Sam Zell, a noted figure throughout the corporate world and an active investor in real estate since the 1960s, died Thursday at age 81.
"He helped revolutionize the industry through the popularization of the real estate investment trust structure in the 1990s, democratizing the ownership of publicly traded real estate companies," Equity Residential said in a statement. Zell founded Equity Residential in 1968.
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"Under his leadership, Equity Residential grew into a highly regarded $31 billion apartment owner, developer and operator and S&P 500 member," the statement continued.
Zell was an active philanthropist with a focus on entrepreneurial education, while establishing entrepreneurship programs like the Zell Lurie Institute at the University of Michigan and the Zell Fellows Program for Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.
"The world has lost one of its greatest investors and entrepreneurs," said Mark Parrell, Equity Residential's president and CEO.
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"Sam’s insatiable intellectual curiosity and passion for deal making created some of the most dynamic companies in the public real estate industry," he added.
Effective immediately, Equity Residential appointed 67-year-old David J. Neithercut as chairman of the board of trustees.
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Neithercut previously served as the company’s CEO from 2006 through 2018 and as a member of the company’s board since 2006.