Bill Hankowsky, chairman, president and CEO of Liberty Property Trust (NYSE: LPT), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview at REITWorld 2015: NAREIT’s Annual Convention for All Things REIT at the Wynn Las Vegas.
Liberty Property Trust owns industrial and office space throughout the United States and United Kingdom.
Hankowsky commented on the company’s decision to initiate a share buyback program in August 2015.
He noted that the timing was favorable because of the serious correction in share prices that occurred later than month. Overall, the program enabled Liberty to buy back about $65 million of stock, Hankowsky said; Liberty will purchase additional shares if it makes sense, he added.
“In a situation where our stock was trading significantly below net asset value, it was as good a use of capital as doing another development,” Hankowsky said.
Turning to Liberty’s assets in the UK, Hankowsky explained that the rationale for its presence in the market is to create development opportunities and value creation.
Among Liberty’s UK projects is Kings Hill, an 800-acre mixed-use development featuring business, retail and residential space. Liberty has also developed the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which combines biomedical research, patient care and education on a single site. A third development involves warehouse facilities in the Midlands region. Hankowsky emphasized that Liberty is involved in a variety of projects in the UK.
Hankowsky also discussed the impact of the growth in technology on the company.
“This is a central issue for us,” he said, and is one of the reasons Liberty decided to shed office space and get more heavily involved on the industrial side. “There is no question that the number of square feet per employee is going down. We don’t need bookshelves, filing cabinets, data rooms,” he observed.