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In fact, Rizk, who received his law degree from Rutgers School of Law and his masters of law in taxation from the New York University School of Law, recalls the only company that had gone public successfully was CarrAmerica Realty Corp. in late 1992, then a Washington D.C.-based office developer. But Caliís founder, John J. Cali, had faith in Rizk, who joined the company in 1989 as general counsel.

"I have always been very enthusiastic about Tom. Having known him for more than 11 years as our company attorney, he had very close relationships with my son Brant [Cali] and nephew John R. Cali," says John J. Cali, 80, former CEO and present chairman of Mack-Cali. "With his knowledge of Wall Street, he was on top of the capital market."

The senior Cali ceded the CEO position to Rizk as the company went public, partly because Rizk was not related to him, his brother, Angelo R. Cali, or their business partner, Edward Leshowitz, who founded the private company in 1949. "Having Tom Rizk as CEO was something that! thought stockholders would like," says John J. Cali. "I also decided Tom Rizk should he there because of his abilities. It was his enthusiasm and his energy that gave the company the ability to go forth and do what we did."

   
  

Also known as The Clock Tower Building, 20 Commerce Drive, in Cranford, N.J., is a 176,000-square-foot, four-story office center.

In August 1994, Cali went public as a REIT with 12 buildings the company had developed totaling 2.2 million square feet. Led by Brant Cali, COO, his father as chairman, and Rizk as president and CEO, the company changed its name to Cali Realty Corp. Rizk promised underwriters the company would have total returns in the neighborhood of about 14 to 17 percent. But very quickly, the company made some good investments in the real estate market, and became one of the top five performing stocks in the industry, says Rizk. "In 1995, 1996 and 1997, our total combined returns were close to 200 percent," he says. It is a feat few companies have achieved, Taylor notes.

Though a financially and personally satisfying achievement, going public has been hard work for Rizk, who had to learn how to balance the public climate with whatís going on in the private real estate market. "You have to bring investors and Wall Street people along, while executing the best real estate strategy," he says. "Some people think they can go through the recapitalization, and go back to business as usual and ignore the public. Thatís a terrible mistake. You have to make decisions to have a strong connection to the people who own your stock, and learn what they do and donít like."

Because Caliís deep-rooted philosophy of developing relationships with clients and colleagues originally drew investors to the company, Rizk focused Caliís attention on submarkets where the company had a significant stake. In Jersey City, N.J., for example, Cali owned 40 percent of the class A office market. In 1996, it expanded its portfolio to include the Harborside Financial Center. The 1.9 million-square-foot office complex for $282 million, was acquired and is occupied by tenants including Bankers Trust Co. and Dow Jones/Telerate.

"We think real estate is a local business, and if you have a management team in the right place and enough of an investment, we can create a synergy and get access to [opportunities] that isnít necessarily available to the general public," says Rizk. He saw the opportunity to expand Caliís strengths into New Yorkís suburbs by acquiring the Robert Martin Development Co., a premier office developer in Westchester, N.Y. Tn January 1997, the transaction was complete and the $450 million deal added 65 office and office/flex properties with 4.1 million square feet.

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