Vornado CEO Says J.C. Penney Loss Unrelated to Exit

Michael Fascitelli, who is leaving next week as Vornado Realty Trust’s chief executive officer, said losses on the company’s investment in J.C. Penney Co. had nothing to do with his decision to resign.

“None. Zero. Absolutely none,” he told reporters today after speaking on a panel at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate in Manhattan. “It had no impact.”

Fascitelli, whose last day at Vornado is April 15, announced his resignation on Feb. 27, a day after the New York-based real estate investment trust reported a $224.9 million loss on its stake in J.C. Penney. Vornado sold more than 10 million shares of the Plano, Texas-based department-store chain last month, leaving it with about a 6.1 percent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Steven Roth, Vornado’s chairman, will take over as CEO temporarily. Fascitelli, who has worked with Roth since joining the REIT in 1996, said there was no friction between them that played into his departure.

“We don’t always agree, but that wasn’t just this year, that’s been for 15 years,” he said.

Fascitelli, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner, said an auto accident last year spurred him to make a change.

“You focus on your work, and that’s your life, and your family, and all of a sudden you have a close call,” he said. “Of course you rethink everything. I’m 56 years old, and I decided I want to do something else.”

Next Venture

He said he has no idea what his next venture will be. He’ll continue to maintain an office at Vornado’s Seventh Avenue headquarters and will remain on the board of the company, which owns more than 100 million square feet (9.3 million square meters) of U.S. commercial real estate.

Fascitelli said he has received overtures including being involved in a sports team. The person was interested in buying a team, he said, declining to provide details.

Roth and the board will determine his permanent successor as Vornado’s CEO, he said.

“They got a great bench,” Fascitelli said. “And Steve tells me plenty of people have applied for my job. There’s a huge demand for my job from the outside.”

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