Chris Benjamin, president and CEO of Alexander & Baldwin (NYSE: ALEX), participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITweek: 2021 Investor Conference.
Benjamin noted that Hawaii was impacted disproportionately by the pandemic because of its reliance on tourism. However, that was mitigated by the fact that Alexander & Baldwin’s (A&B) portfolio is not heavily tourism dependent, he said.
Benjamin said the REIT expects to see continued progress in same-store net operating income (NOI).
Turning to simplification of A&B’s business model, Benjamin said a “silver lining” of COVID has been the demand for land in Hawaii. The REIT’s simplification efforts are focused on selling off some of its legacy assets, including land; “We’ve got tremendous interest in Hawaii land assets and a lot of momentum toward completing our simplification over the next year or so.”
On the acquisition front, Benjamin said, “I’m increasingly confident that we’ll be placing some capital this year,” and that the company will be in a position to use its balance sheet for acquisitions.
Meanwhile, A&B was a 2020 silver recipient of Nareit’s DE&I award, and Benjamin noted that the issues have been important to the company throughout its 150-year history.
“There is a lot of work to be done in advancing DEI and it has to start with those of us who have privilege, creating a safe environment for the discussion of discrimination and the systematic undoing of it,” Benjamin said.