Berkowitz: 'There is More to Do' at St. Joe
A day after St. Joe Company's board hired Morgan Stanley to help the firm explore strategic alternatives, the company's biggest shareholder said there is more to do.
In a statement, mutual fund manager Bruce Berkowitz said, "Yesterday was a good day for Joe and its shareholders."
He added the company's independent directors know they have more to do and encouraged others to "stay tuned."
Berkowitz, whose Fairholme Capital owns 29.7% of the real estate firm, threatened a proxy fight if the company's board did not take action. Following a yesterday's board meeting the company issued a press release saying it hired Morgan Stanley to explore strategic alternatives including a possible sale of the company, joint ventures or other partnerships. It was a partial victory for Berkowitz who as first reported by CNBC, also told the company he wanted to restructure the board by taking over the chairmanship from Hugh Durden and replacing three other directors. Berkowitz's plan also included getting the firm to break even within six months by cutting $60 million in expenses.
Berkowitz and Charles Fernandez, a St. Joe board member and president of Fairholme said they applaud their fellow board members and Durden for actions taken, adding that they work for all owners and that the owners of the company who deserve a return on their capital must come first.
With 576,000 acres, St. Joe is the single largest landowner in northwest Florida. St. Joe lost money in 2008 and 2009, as well as in the first three quarters of 2010. The firm, which has residential and commercial real estate holdings and timberland, has been hard hit by the downturn in the real estate market.