American Campus says hedge fund CEO did not follow up on board seat interview

2 mins read

– American Campus Communities Inc, the largest owner of student housing in the United States, said on Thursday the head of hedge fund Land & Buildings Investment Management LLC had not followed up on an interview for a position on the company’s board.

The activist fund has been seeking a board seat and believes the company needs to sell assets aggressively and buy back stock.

American Campus said that one of its board committees interviewed Land & Buildings’ Chief Executive Jonathan Litt for a board seat on Nov. 18 and that he did not provide follow-up information he had indicated he would give.

A Land & Buildings spokesperson said American Campus did not respond Land & Buildings’ last communication. In a presentation to American Campus shareholders on Thursday, Litt reiterated his demands for a board seat and said discussions with the company “had stalled out over the past weeks.”

American Campus staved off a board challenge from Land & Buildings in January by agreeing to replenish its board with three new directors. Since then, its shares have returned 39% and are trading near their all-time highs, as students returned to college campuses when vaccines became available to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Litt argues the shares could have done even better, saying that they have underperformed the Bloomberg Apartment REIT Index by 18 percentage points since January.

He has called on American Campus to speed up asset sales, cut expenses, return capital to shareholders and explore strategic alternatives, including a sale of the company.

American Campus said on Thursday it had refined its portfolio to focus on properties within walking distance of popular universities and returned its total property net operating income to pre-pandemic levels a year earlier than expected.

(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)