is best known as a real estate entrepreneur
in the United States. He is the co-founder
and Chairman of the Equity Group Investments
firm, a private investment company that
has managed to bring four internationally
based real estate developers into public
offerings. In 2008 Sam Zell had an estimated
worth of $6 billion.
Zell was born in September of 1941 to
Polish immigrants. His parents were Jewish
and they fled their native land to come
to America just prior to the Nazi invasion
of Poland. Zell attended the University
of Michigan and graduated with a BA in
1963. During college he managed apartment
buildings in Michigan and it started his
real estate career. While he was at the
university, Zell was a member of the Alpha
Epsilon Pi fraternity where he met and
befriended Robert Lurie.
years after graduating, Sam Zell and Lurie
created Equity Group Investments through
which they began purchasing cheap real
estate from motivated, often distressed,
sellers. As the market changed and prices
rose and fell, the men continued to purchase
real estate at cheap prices at low times
and profited as prices soared. Equity
Group Investments then created three separate
companies to manage owned real estate:
Equity Office Properties, Equity Residential,
and Manufactured Home Communities. Equity
Office Properties is the largest office
owner in the country while Equity Residential
maintains its status as the largest apartment
owner in America. In February of 2007,
Blackstone Group, a private equity firm,
purchased Equity Office Properties Trust
for $39 billion.
Zell also created SZ Investments LLC and
is the Chairman of Capital Trust Inc.
and Anixter International. He first invested
in Anixter International, a communications
and specialty wiring company, in 1987
when it was worth only $600 million. Although
it makes a variety of goods, Anixter manufactures
the largest number of Ethernet and computer
cables sold on the market. The company
was worth approximately $4.6 billion athe
the beginning of 2008.
mid 2007, Zell bought the Chicago Tribune
and the Los Angeles Times, two major regional
newspapers, as well as other media hubs
from the Tribune Company. Samuel Zell
has since received generous offers to
purchase the newspapers.
addition to real estate purchases and
other major acquisitions and holdings,
Sam Zell actively supports education through
philanthropy. He helped fund the Real
Estate Department and the Samuel Zell
and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center at
the Wharton School of the University of
Pennsylvania and created the Zell-Lurie
Institute at his alma mater, the University
of Michigan to which he as also given
generous donations. He also funded the
Zell Center for Risk Research at Northwestern
University's Kellogg School of Management.
Zell's involvement in academics does not
end with his donations, however. He is
on the President's Advisory Board at the
University of Michigan as well as the
Visitor's Committee at the University's
Law School. Zell continues to serve on
the JPMorgan National Advisory Board and
the Eurohypo International Advisory Board.
refers to himself as a "professional
opportunist" and has made a living
making smart, but risky investments.
Others have given the savvy investor the
nickname of "grave dancer" because
of his ability to buy businesses that
other thought were dead.
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