Commentary-Special Assets-Print

Q. HOW DO MOST OF YOUR CLIENTS ACQUIRE THEIR SPECIAL ASSETS? A. Owners acquire special assets in a variety of ways – some build them from the ground floor up while some may acquire them through purchases or generational transfer. If a business owner of any enterprise retires or suddenly passes away, the burden of operations can sometimes fall on family members who may not be prepared or want to carry on in the same way. Businesses involving natural resources, such as farming, forestry, and mineral interests, require special expertise. That’s often the time we are invited in to help continue business A. A married couple with a large farming operation and a long investment relationship with Commerce Trust was faced with some tough financial choices recently when the husband suddenly passed away. The wife faced the prospect of having to take over the operation of several thousand acres of farmland worth millions of dollars. She had a deep empathy for the many long-time business partners who had been her husband’s key tenants and she reached out to us for help in transitioning these assets. Given our long-standing history with the couple, we were uniquely situated to help. The wife decided to bring us in as agent to assist her in reaching her goals for the property. As not all the interested tenants could immediately raise the funds to purchase the parcels, we also enlisted an outside agent to list for sale and auction portions of the acreage, using their experience to derive the most value for the family. At the same time, this created fair access to the pool of potential purchasers the wife desired. The sheer scope of managing this process made it a complex job. In many cases, it’s simply too big a task for a single person or someone not accustomed to dealing with large-scale operations. You need an experienced team. Q. CAN YOU GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE OF WHY THIS IS A TOUGH “DO IT YOURSELF” PURSUIT? A. A professional special assets manager skilled in managing properties or ongoing businesses can have a competitive advantage over those without the specialization or appropriate skill set. As a prepared advocate for our clients, we apply our experience to produce a better bottom-line result. For example, we recognize that valuation mistakes are more likely to occur when there are many minority interest holders in a property. Under our representation, we were able to better market and command a significantly higher selling price for a client who had a minority interest in a large tract. Another minority owner mistakenly thought her property was virtually worthless and sold her mineral rights at a fraction of what they were worth. By doing the homework and waiting just a little longer for the right purchaser, our client profited immensely compared to her neighbor. Q. CAN YOU GIVE ME ANOTHER EXAMPLE? A. We sometimes find circumstances where tenants are not held as accountable for the condition of a property as they should be under the terms of a lease. We recently helped an out-of-state property owner who had several multi-tenant commercial buildings up for sale for a considerable amount of time with no offers. When he subsequently retained our services, we discovered the property manager had let the properties deteriorate. They looked more like distressed properties than actively managed assets. As a result, a host of maintenance issues prevented the buildings from attracting buyers at a fair price. Our active property management skills, working with the tenants and property manager, enabled us to rectify these problems quickly and we had the properties sold in 90 days. Q. HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO ENGAGE PROFESSIONAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES? A. There is no one right answer for everyone, but usually individual trustees who suddenly find themselves facing business responsibilities for which they have little experience, or who have more complicated family business or real estate issues, are among the first to call us. If you find yourself wanting to develop a coordinated management or transition plan for an ongoing business or property, you can call Commerce at 1-800-292-1601. Follow the prompts to Ext. 1-3213. operations or determine an appropriate transition for the family as they see fit. Q. HOW HAVE COMMERCE TRUST CLIENTS PROFITED FROM YOUR EXPERTISE?

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