Zell Becomes Equity International Interim Chief Executive

Billionaire Sam Zell took over as interim chief executive officer of real estate investment firm Equity International, according to the company’s website.

Gary Garrabrant, a co-founder of the Chicago-based company who had been CEO, was removed from the website. Thomas McDonald, chief strategic officer, also no longer appears in the site’s “leadership” section.

Zell and Garrabrant founded Equity International in 1999 to invest in real estate in fast-growing emerging markets. The company has teamed with local operating partners on investments in 14 countries, including Mexico, Brazil, China and India, according to its website. Zell, 70, also is founder of Equity Group Investments LLC, a Chicago-based private investment firm that’s more than 40 years old.

“I have been the majority owner of EI since its inception 13 years ago, and I am actively engaged in the business,” Zell said in an e-mailed statement today. “We have a deep well of expertise at the company, and substantial resources at EGI to contribute during this transition.”

The management shakeup was reported earlier today by the Wall Street Journal.

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