Sam Zell is chairman of Equity Group Investments LLC (EGI), the private, entrepreneurial investment firm he founded more than 40 years ago. Mr. Zell’s investments span industries and continents, and include interests in real estate, energy, logistics, transportation, media, and health care. He is recognized as a founding father of today’s public real estate industry after creating three of the largest real estate investment trusts (REITs) in history.
Mr. Zell is also co-founder and chairman of Equity International, a private investment firm focused on real estate-related companies outside the U.S. He has been particularly active with Equity International’s publicly held portfolio companies, three of which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange: Gafisa (GFA), a leading homebuilder in Brazil; Xinyuan (XIN), a fast-growing regional homebuilder in China; and Homex (HXM), Mexico’s leading homebuilder. A fourth, BR Malls, Brazil’s largest retail property owner and operator, is listed on the Bovespa (BZ:BRML3).
Mr. Zell maintains substantial interests in, and is the chairman of, five other public companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange: Equity Residential (EQR), the largest apartment REIT; Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), a REIT that owns and operates manufactured home communities; Capital Trust (CT), a specialized real estate finance company; Covanta Holding Corp. (CVA), an international leader in converting waste to energy; and Anixter (AXE), a value-add provider of integrated networking and cabling solutions that support business information and network infrastructure requirements. Mr. Zell is also the chairman of Tribune Company, a private media conglomerate.
Previously, Mr. Zell served as chairman for Equity Office Properties Trust (EOP), which was sold in February 2007 to The Blackstone Group for $39 billion in the largest private equity transaction in history at the time.
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 has provided 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 a long-standing supporter of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Real Estate Center, and has endowed the Samuel Zell/Robert Lurie Real Estate Center at Wharton. Mr. Zell has also endowed the Northwestern University Center for Risk Management.
A native Chicagoan, Mr. Zell holds a bachelor's degree and a J.D. from the University of Michigan. He began his career in real estate as an undergraduate at the University by managing apartment buildings throughout Southeast Michigan. Mr. Zell is an avid skier, racquetball player and enjoys riding motorcycles. He is a frequent contributor of articles to various publications, and is often heard as a keynote speaker throughout the United States and Europe.