01/03/2012 | by
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Wm. "Bill" Polk Carey, founder and chairman of investment management company W. P. Carey & Co. LLC, died in West Palm Beach, Fla. on Jan. 2. He was 81.

The entrepreneur formed W. P. Carey in 1973, primarily to structure single-asset private investments. Under Carey's leadership, the firm became a global leader in the commercial real estate industry and currently manages close to $12 billion in assets.

Carey was also a longtime advocate of the REIT approach to real estate investment.

"Bill saw early on the benefits of using the REIT structure to match the investment goals of individual investors seeking stable, inflation-protected dividend yields with the long term financing needs of corporate owners of real estate," said Trevor Bond, CEO of W.P. Carey.

Carey is credited as one of the key figures in the growth of the sale-leaseback investment strategy for commercial real estate.

"While he did not invent the sale-leaseback as a financing vehicle, it's fair to say that he did as much as any single person to make it a commonly used tool in the arsenal of CFOs all over the world," Bond said.

Recently, W. P. Carey made headlines in 2009 when it purchased 21 floors of the New York Times Building in Manhattan for $225 million under a sale-leaseback arrangement. The Times' publisher agreed to lease space in the building for up to 15 years.

Carey supported the efforts of NAREIT throughout the decades.

"He was proud to be an early and continual supporter of NAREIT and felt that its work was essential in both educating and protecting investors, particularly those whom he considered part of the W. P. Carey family," Bond said.

In addition to being a businessman Carey was also a philanthropist, having established the W. P. Carey Foundation in 1988. The foundation supports educational institutions through endowments to universities, including Arizona State University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland.

The foundation will be the primary beneficiary of shares of common stock held by Carey.

"Bill Carey was determined that the charitable work he pursued throughout his life should continue long after his death," stated his brother, Francis Carey, and president of the W.P. Carey Foundation.