Sam Zell founded Equity International in 1999. He had led the monetization of the real estate investment trust (REIT) era in the U.S. six years earlier and believed that liquid real estate would have an even greater impact in emerging markets where access to capital was limited. Mr. Zell applied his skills and experience to help EI lead the monetization of real estate companies in Brazil, Mexico and China, in-country and on the New York Stock Exchange. These companies were recognized and rewarded for Mr. Zell’s trademark focus on corporate governance and transparency.
Mr. Zell’s investments span industries and continents, and include interests in finance, energy, transportation, communications, and real estate. These investments are managed by Equity Group Investments (EGI), the private investment firm Mr. Zell founded more than 40 years ago. Mr. Zell is recognized as a founding father of today’s public real estate industry after creating three of the largest REITs in history.
Mr. Zell maintains substantial interests in, and is the chairman of, four other public companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange: Equity Residential Properties Trust, the largest apartment REIT in the United States; Equity LifeStyle Properties, a manufactured home community REIT; Covanta Holding Corporation, an international owner/operator of energy-from-waste and power generation facilities; and Anixter International Inc., a leading global provider of communications, security, and wire and cable products. Previously, Mr. Zell served as chairman for Equity Office Properties Trust, which was sold in February 2007 to The Blackstone Group for $39 billion in one of the largest private equity transactions in history.
Mr. Zell serves on the JPMorgan National Advisory Board; the President’s Advisory Board at the University of Michigan; the Visitor’s Committee at the University of Michigan Law School; and with the combined efforts of the University of Michigan Business School, established the Zell/Lurie Entrepreneurial Center. Mr. Zell’s continual assistance to Michigan’s MBA program has also enhanced the Business School’s Polish Studies Program. He was appointed a DeRoy Visiting Professor in Honors at the College of Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan. He is also a long-standing supporter of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Real Estate Center, where he endowed the Samuel Zell/Robert Lurie Real Estate Center. Mr. Zell also endowed Northwestern University’s Center for Risk Management. He holds a JD degree and a BA from the University of Michigan.