January 9, 2012
By Scott Baltic, Contributing Editor
The New York Stock Exchange has delisted Grubb & Ellis Co., the long-beleaguered services and investment firm, whose common stock began trading over-the-counter on Friday, on the OTCQB marketplace operated by OTC Markets Group.
The NYSE had announced earlier last week that Grubb & Ellis was no longer eligible for listing, because it had fallen below a threshold of $15 million in average global market capitalization over a consecutive 30-day trading period. There had been earlier warning signs, regarding average market cap, reported shareholders’ equity and average closing price. Grubb & Ellis stated that it “plans to appeal this decision,” though no further information was available on the likelihood of success or the time frame involved.
OTC Markets, founded in 1931 as the National Quotation Bureau and informally known as Pink Sheets, is not a stock exchange, but rather an entity that facilitates exchanges of securities between qualified independent brokers.
The OTC Markets Web site describes OTCQB as “the middle tier of the OTC market. OTCQB companies are reporting with the SEC or a U.S. banking regulator, making it easy for investors to identify companies that are current in their reporting obligations. There are no financial or qualitative standards to be in this tier.”
In its last day of trading on the NYSE, “GBE” opened last Thursday at $0.11 and closed at $0.07. In its first day on OTCQB, “GRBE” opened last Friday at $0.071 and closed at $0.085, up 19.72 percent on volume of just over 620,000 shares.
An individual who’s familiar with Grubb & Ellis, and who spoke with Commercial Property Executive on condition of anonymity, said this latest blow, while mostly symbolic, is yet another sign of the veteran company’s slide. The source noted that C-III Capital Partners’ final exclusivity period, in which to perform due diligence and make an offer for the company, expires in barely a week.
Especially since the departure of its former healthcare REIT in November, the source opined, Grubb & Ellis is “pretty much near the end of its rope,” with little cash remaining, more employees furloughed and others leaving on their own. “It’s a real mess,” the source said. “Lots of people have left.”
Can this long-time brand be saved? Despite everything, Grubb & Ellis still lays claim to being “one of the largest and most respected commercial real estate services and investment companies in the world,” with 5,200 employees in more than 100 company-owned and affiliate offices.