Sam Zell is a global, opportunistic, often contrarian, investor. He specializes in identifying market anomalies and emerging trends, and has a long track record in turning around troubled companies and assets, leading industry consolidations, and bringing companies to the public markets. The majority of his investment portfolio is in energy, logistics, transportation, manufacturing, communications and healthcare, but he is often best known for his pioneering role and stewardship in creating the modern commercial real estate industry.
Sam is the Chairman of Equity Group Investments, the private investment firm he founded more than 45 years ago. He also chairs five companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange: Equity Residential, the largest apartment REIT in the country; Equity LifeStyle Properties, a manufactured home community and resort REIT; Equity Commonwealth, an office 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.
Sam also founded and chaired Equity Office Properties Trust, the largest office REIT until its 2007 sale for $39 billion in the largest leveraged buyout at the time. In addition, he introduced the first Brazilian and Mexican real estate companies, respectively, to the New York Stock Exchange through Equity International, a second private investment firm he founded to focus on real estate-related businesses in emerging markets.
Sam is an active philanthropist with a focus on entrepreneurial education. Through the Zell Family Foundation, he has led the sponsorship of several leading entrepreneurship programs, including: the Zell/Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business; the Zell Fellows Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management; the Samuel Zell/Robert Lurie Real Estate Center at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Real Estate Center; and the Zell Entrepreneurship Center at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC). The Zell Global Entrepreneur Network (ZGEN) unites the students and alumni of these programs and actively provides them with connections, opportunities, mentorship and support. Sam holds a JD degree and a BA from the University of Michigan.