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More Real Estate Should be Public, Robinson Says

10/08/2010 | By Allen Kenney

Given the strong track record of REITs, a greater share of commercial real estate should be held in public hands, according to Tom Robinson, senior advisor with investment bank Stifel Nicolaus Weisel. In an interview with REIT.com, Robinson, who served as NAREIT vice president and general counsel from 1981 to 1989, said the current state of the industry has left him "optimistic" about its future. "I think we've proven that real estate in the public arena is in the hands of good managers with good discipline in terms of capital allocation," Robinson said. "I think we're going to see the continuation of the growing recognition that real estate can be well managed and run in the public arena. In fact, more real estate should be owned by public companies." Looking ahead, Robinson speculated that more initial public offerings of REITs lie on the horizon, despite a lukewarm response from the market to recent offerings. "The current IPO wave hasn't really come together yet in the way that I think it will," he said. Robinson attributed the lack of enthusiasm from investors to the confluence of multiple factors. He noted that owners haven't reached a point yet where they're being forced to sell of assets. "Some of the problems we face really reflect the fact that real estate is still not suffering the kind of distress that is bringing a lot of high-quality real estate to the market at prices that people can get excited about," Robinson said.