On April 3, 2012, the Law School hosted a timely discussion with Sam Zell, one of the world’s leading investors, on "The Economy, Law and Entrepreneurialism." Zell, whose investment interests span real estate, energy, logistics, transportation, media, and health care, was joined in conversation with Dean Michael Schill.
Zell is one of the most insightful analysts of economic trends, whose successful investment strategy has made him a perennial member of Forbes billionaire list. Zell founded Equity Group Investments (EGI), the private entrepreneurial investment firm, more than 40 years ago. EGI created one of the largest real estate investment trusts (REITs) in history. He also is chairman and co-founder of Equity International. EI has invested in 22 portfolio companies, including homebuilding, retail, warehousing, distribution, office, hospitality, self-storage, senior living and specialty finance sectors spanning Latin America, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Europe.
Previously, Mr. Zell served as chairman for Equity Office Properties Trust (EOP), the largest office REIT in the U.S. EOP was sold in February 2007 to The Blackstone Group for $39 billion in the largest private equity transaction in history at the time.
Among Zell’s investment “fundamentals” are these maxims: “When everyone is going right, look left.” “Look for good companies with bad balance sheets.” “Liquidity=Value.” “Understand the downside.” Mr. Zell serves on the JPMorgan National Advisory Board; the Eurohypo International Advisory Board; the President’s Advisory Board at the University of Michigan; the Visitor’s Committee at the University of Michigan Law School; and with the combined efforts of the University of Michigan Business School, he established the Zell/Lurie Entrepreneurial Center. Mr. Zell’s continual assistance to Michigan’s MBA program has also enhanced the Business School’s Polish Studies Program. He was appointed a DeRoy Visiting Professor in Honors at the College of Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan. He is a long-standing supporter of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Real Estate Center, and has endowed the Samuel Zell/Robert Lurie Real Estate Center at Wharton. Mr. Zell has also endowed the Northwestern University Center for Risk Management.
A native Chicagoan, Mr. Zell is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School. He began his career in real estate as an undergraduate at the University by managing apartment buildings throughout Southeast Michigan.