Ashforth’s West Coast Arm Bought by Its CEO

Ashforth Pacific, the West Coast operating subsidiary of The Ashforth Company, has just been purchased by Scott Langley, the subsidiary's CEO for the past 10 years.

November 17, 2011
By Scott Baltic, Contributing Editor

Ashforth Pacific, the West Coast operating subsidiary of The Ashforth Company, a commercial real estate firm headquartered in Stamford, Conn., has just been purchased by Scott Langley, the subsidiary’s CEO and president for the past 10 years, the firm announced Wednesday. The resulting new investment management company is named Langley Investment Properties and will continue to be headquartered in Portland, Ore.

“We’re not a start-up.” Langley told Commercial Property Executive. “We’re basically the same company with new ownership.”

Langley, who was not at liberty to discuss the deal’s financials, emphasized that LIP will remain in a close relationship with Ashforth. In fact, the new company, comprising about 100 employees, will continue to provide asset management for Ashforth’s 2 million-square-foot portfolio of office space in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco. That portfolio includes Liberty Centre, Pacwest Center, ODS Tower and One Pacific Square (totaling 1.5 million square feet) in Portland, The Exchange Building in Seattle and the Orrick Building in San Francisco.

LIP’s current operating portfolio also includes the Lloyd Center Tower, Lloyd 700 and Oregon Square in Portland and various downtown parking garages.

Although plans for the new company are to remain focused on its three core markets, Langley told CPE that it will be seeking acquisition opportunities and anticipates being an equity partner in all new ventures. In addition, Langley said, “We’re already on the threshold of some development projects in the Portland market.”

The Ashforth Company is a 115-year-old real estate operating company that owns, develops and invests in assets on the East and West Coasts, as well as providing asset and property management, general contracting, and construction management. It owns/manages more than 6 million square feet of office space nationwide.

Before joining Ashforth in 2001 as president of Ashforth Pacific, Langley spent 15 years with Cushman and Wakefield’s capital markets group as the Pacific Northwest senior managing director.

Besides this transaction, CPE has recently reported on a surge of motion in the industry, including the merger of four CRE firms in Idaho and Montana, Lee & Associates’ opening an office in NYC and an Avison Young office in Las Vegas.

Stan Ross, chairman of the board of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California, spoke briefly with CPE about this kind of activity, albeit without intending to comment on any specific transaction.

“There’s a lot of activity” of this type, he agreed. “You could call it a trend.”

As to what’s driving this, Ross offered plenty of possibilities. For one, a CRE company might be in trouble and looking for a suitor, or a publicly traded company’s value might have fallen, making it an attractive target.

On a more positive note, he said, a merger or spinoff might take place “just because the value proposition is there.” For example, it might be beneficial to combine two company’s product lines, or their differing geographic areas of operation might provide some advantages.

And of course, there are those common situations in which a merger can increase the depth of management, provide cost efficiencies or create a critical mass in some other way.

Finally, Ross noted, liquidity is a factor in the CRE industry: “There’s been a lot of capital sitting around.”