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Employees to Profit From Pending Sale, Tycoon Says : Oxnard: Businessman Martin V. ‘Bud’ Smith promises bonuses to his 975 workers. He also says their jobs will be secure under new owner.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Oxnard businessman Martin V. “Bud” Smith, who is dismantling the real estate empire he built over 50 years, said Saturday that his 975 employees will share in the profits he makes in the pending sale.

“Every one of those people are going to have a bonus,” Smith said in his first interview since the sale was reported. “We’re sharing our good fortune with all of the people who helped create it.”

The bonuses will amount to several million dollars, Smith said.

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What’s more, the nearly 1,000 people who work in his restaurants, hotels and other businesses will be rehired once the sale is complete, Smith said.

Most of Smith’s employees had been told earlier this month that their jobs could end in February when most of Smith’s holdings are sold to the Tiger Real Estate Fund.

Tiger Real Estate has headquarters in New York and an office in Beverly Hills, Smith said. Although its articles of incorporation list the company as a “foreign limited partnership,” Smith said the firm is not foreign-owned.

“It’s not offshore money, it’s domestic money,” he said.

Martin V. Smith & Associates had announced Friday that the company was divesting many of its assets, including hotels, restaurants and more than 1,000 apartments in and around the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard.

Under terms of the deal, the company will turn over ownership of many of its 200 or more properties between Calabasas and Santa Maria to Tiger Real Estate.

The 21-story Financial Plaza Tower, the tallest building in Ventura County, and the 15-story Ventura County National Bank building are included in the transaction.

Also slated for sale are the Casa Sirena Marina resort and the Lobster Trap restaurant. Smith associates said they will not sell the Wagon Wheel area and will pursue plans to redevelop it.

The value of the transaction has not been made public, but Smith’s holdings were estimated by analysts at more than $150 million earlier this year. The sale is expected to be completed by late February.

Tiger Real Estate executives said in a statement released Friday that they would operate Smith’s businesses “in a manner consistent with the philosophy of Martin V. ‘Bud’ Smith.”

But they declined to specify whether all workers would be employed after the transaction is completed.

Smith said Saturday, however, that his employees have job security. “If they want to work, they’ve got a job right where they are,” he said.

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Times correspondent Jack Searles contributed to this report.


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