The head of Irvine Co.'s publicly traded apartment development arm said Wednesday he will resign at the end of the month to seek new challenges after steering the company through its first year of independence.
T. Patrick Smith, 46, has overseen Irvine Apartment Communities since 1987, when it was a wholly owned unit of Irvine Co. and was called Irvine Pacific. The company changed its name in December, 1993, when the Irvine Co. sold 39% of its stock in a public offering.
Now operating as a real estate investment trust but still controlled by Irvine Co., Irvine Apartment Communities owns 43 apartment developments in Orange County and has five more under construction in Tustin, Irvine and Newport Beach. All are on schedule and within budget, Smith said, adding that he timed his departure to cause the least interruption.
"When I looked at it all, it seemed like this was the right time to make a change," Smith said in an interview Wednesday.
He said he would probably continue to be involved with real estate projects in the area, though he said he could not discuss what they might be.
Smith said he told Irvine Co. Chairman Donald L. Bren and other Irvine Co. officials several months ago that he planned to step down. He said he will remain until the end of the month, when his replacement is expected to be selected. Until then, he will share operational duties with Bren.
Bren, who also is chairman of Irvine Apartment Communities, praised Smith for his leadership. "He stepped into this company at its formation with his typical energy and enthusiasm, and made an important contribution to the company's accomplishments," Bren said. "He leaves with our appreciation and friendship."
Analysts said Smith's departure was unlikely to affect the financial health or future plans of the apartment development company, which had revenue of $130 million in calender year 1994.
"If there weren't a parent company, no Don Bren" to step in and assume control, "that would be a big problem," said Lee Schalop, an analyst at New York brokerage Kemper Securities Inc.
Bren's task will be to keep the company's attention focused on its building projects rather than on finding and integrating a new president, said Craig Leupold an analyst with Green Street Advisors Inc. The Newport Beach consulting company follows real estate companies for large investors.
"In the short run, it's always tough when a president or a CEO resigns. You can have a transition period that means you have to focus on things other than developing your portfolio," Leupold said. "But here you have a very deep management team (at Irvine Apartments), so I don't expect there are going to be any real negative effects on the company."
Irvine Apartments' stock declined by 25 cents to close at $16 a share on volume of 27,300 shares in trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.