A tenure marked by bold decisions

Leader: As chief executive since 1995, Anthony W. Deering has steered the Rouse Co. through difficult times.

Corporate chairman

Sale Of The Rouse Co.

August 21, 2004|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

Anthony W. Deering has guided the Rouse Co. through some of the most challenging economic times - recession, unstable cycles with office property, and the technology bubble that drained investors from real estate.

Deering, the 59-year-old chairman and chief executive of the Columbia-based mall developer, is credited with restructuring a company that was fat with expenses and under-performing properties.

"The company has made substantial progress under his leadership," said George A. Roche, chairman of T. Rowe Price Group Inc., the Baltimore-based mutual fund company. "He is very able; there is no question about that."

"It is a well-run company, well-positioned, and it is one of the best in the country," said Raymond A. "Chip" Mason, chairman and chief executive of Legg Mason Inc., the Baltimore-based money management company. "I think he has done extremely well."

Yesterday, Deering sold Rouse to Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc. in a $12.6 billion deal - $7.2 billion in cash and the assumption of $5.4 billion in debt - that is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Wall Street reacted positively to the decision, sending Rouse's shares up 31.69 percent to $66.65 a share.

The move was Deering's boldest by far. But since he was chosen to run the company, he has been an executive defined by making brave decisions. In the early 1990s, Deering led a transformation of Rouse, cleaning up a "bloated" company by getting rid of dozens of under-performing shopping centers, said David Fick, head of the real estate research group at Legg Mason.

Shortly after Deering was named chief executive in 1995, Rouse spent $520 million on the Las Vegas properties owned by the heirs of billionaire Howard R. Hughes Jr. The deal gave Rouse office buildings, a shopping mall and Summerlin, a residential community. "It was really a good acquisition," Roche said.

But not everything has gone well under Deering's leadership. Rouse's return to shareholders has lagged behind those in its peer group, Fick said. "Until early this year, they were the worst-performing mall company," he said.

"In my view ... he did the right thing," Fick said. "It is very tough in a town like Baltimore to sell your company, especially an iconic company like Rouse."

Born in Chevy Chase, Deering joined Rouse as an associate in its planning department in October 1972 after earning a master's degree in business administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

He rose through the company's ranks, eventually becoming chief financial officer. In 1993, he was named president and chief operations officer.

Deering has been well-compensated for his efforts. Last year, he made $2 million in salary, and he stands to make millions of dollars when the deal closes.

Deering, who has three children, is a director of Mercantile Bankshares Corp., and he sits on the boards of some T. Rowe Price mutual funds. He is also a trustee of the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Johns Hopkins University and the Baltimore Center for the Performing Arts; he was the vice chairman of the board of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

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