Zell straps on his dancing shoes again
The man who proudly characterizes himself as a “grave dancer” specializing in the acquisition and turnaround of troubled businesses is organizing a $625 million fund to invest in distressed commercial real estate, according to Bloomberg News.
If there is a growth field anywhere in this wobbly economy, it has to be commercial real estate, where untold billions of over-leveraged deals are about to crater amid plunging real estate values and soaring vacancy rates.
Zell built his fortune over the years on trafficking in just these sorts of properties, so this is a natural fit for his skill set. In addition to this prior experience, Zell will bring to his new venture the additional insight gained in creating a significant distressed asset of his own.
That, of course, would be the Tribune Co., which Zell saddled with some $12 billion in debt in a failed employee stock ownership plan that landed in bankruptcy court before the deal was a year old.
Though Zell may come out unscathed, you can’t say the same for some 20,000 current and involuntarily former fellow owners at Tribune. They would up being dragged to a dance where no one had a ball.