Sam Zell is the Chairman of Equity Group Investments (EGI), the private investment firm he founded more than 45 years ago. The firm’s investments span industries and continents, and include interests in finance, energy, transportation, communications, healthcare and real estate. Zell is recognized as a founding father of today’s public real estate industry after creating three of the largest real estate investment trusts (REITs) in history.
He is also Founder and Chairman of Equity International, a private investment firm focused on building real estate-related businesses in international emerging markets. Zell has been particularly active in bringing Equity International’s companies to the public markets, including Gafisa, the largest Brazilian homebuilder, and Homex, the largest Mexican homebuilder.
Zell maintains substantial interests in, and is the Chairman of, five other public companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange: Equity Residential, the largest apartment REIT in the U.S.; Equity LifeStyle Properties, Inc., a manufactured home community REIT; Equity Commonwealth, an office building REIT; Covanta Holding Corporation, an international owner/operator of energy-from-waste and power generation facilities; and Anixter International Inc., a leading global provider of communications, security, and wire and cable products. Previously, Zell served as Chairman for Equity Office Properties Trust, which was sold in 2007 to The Blackstone Group for $39 billion in one of the largest private equity transactions in history.
Zell serves on the President’s Advisory Board at the University of Michigan, and with the combined efforts of the University of Michigan Business School, established the Zell/Lurie Entrepreneurial Center. Zell’s continual assistance to Michigan’s MBA program has also enhanced the Business School’s Polish Studies Program. He is also a long-standing supporter of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Real Estate Center, where he endowed the Samuel Zell/Robert Lurie Real Estate Center. Zell also endowed Northwestern University’s Center for Risk Management. He holds a JD degree and a BA from the University of Michigan.