Tuesday, March 01, 2011

An out-of-family succession at the helm of Forest City Enterprises, as LaRue takes over from Chuck Ratner

For the first time in the 90-year history of Forest City Enterprises, the company will be run by someone outside the founding clan (which still controls the publicly-traded firm).

From a press release:
Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: FCEA and FCEB) today announced that President and CEO Charles A. Ratner will become Chairman of the Board, and will be succeeded as President and CEO by David J. LaRue, currently Executive Vice President and COO. The changes are a part of the company's succession planning process and will be effective following Forest City's annual meeting of shareholders on June 10, 2011.

Concurrent with the CEO succession, current co-chairmen Albert B. Ratner and Samuel H. Miller will each become co-chairman emeritus and will no longer serve on the board. Both will remain active in their respective areas of the business.
It was explained as a simple matter of time: Ratner is 69, LaRue 49, and the co-chairmen are in their 80s.

That all may be so, but there's one curious note. The investor conference call to discuss the change was held today with only a few hours notice, while typically the company offers several days of lead time for calls concerning earnings results.

"I want to assure you there's no impending issue that I'm aware of that requires this timing," Ratner said during the call. "This is being done out of a position of strength."

"I feel better about the company now than at any time in the past," he said, adding that "family" is less about blood than shared values.

Albert Ratner is 83; Sam Miller is 89, as noted by Crain's. Here's coverage in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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