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Alexander & Baldwin approves conversion to REIT

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Alexander & Baldwin Inc. has unanimously approved the company’s conversion to a real estate investment trust.

The Honolulu-based real estate investment and development firm had been evaluating the idea of converting itself to an REIT from a regular corporation. REITs are required to pass at least 90 percent of their income to shareholders and as a result don’t pay income tax on that amount. A&B first announced in October that it was exploring the conversion.

“With the recent success of our focused growth strategy, the majority of A&B’s income comes from our Hawaii commercial real estate business,” A&B President and CEO Chris Benjamin said Monday in a statement. “As we look to strengthen our Hawaii focus and further invest in our local communities, our board has unanimously determined that a REIT structure will best facilitate those goals.

Benjamin said the structure will provide A&B with greater access to capital and ability to compete with institutional investors for Hawaii commercial properties, “thereby keeping more Hawaii properties in local hands.”

A&B said it named an experienced REIT executive, James Mead, as chief financial officer, effective immediately. He succeeds Paul Ito, who will continue as senior vice president, finance and treasurer of A&B through the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition.

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