The GEO Group, Inc. (NYSE: GEO) ("GEO") today announced that its Board of Directors (the "Board") has unanimously authorized GEO to take all necessary steps, including the divestiture of certain health care assets, that will prepare GEO to position itself to operate in compliance with the real estate investment trust ("REIT") rules of the Internal Revenue Code (the "REIT rules") beginning January 1, 2013. This decision follows a thorough analysis and careful consideration by GEO of ways to maximize shareholder value through alternative financing, capital and other strategies. While GEO has not received a private letter ruling from the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"), GEO is taking the necessary steps to position itself to qualify as a REIT for 2013.
George C. Zoley, GEO's Chairman, CEO and Founder, said, "Based on our extensive work over the past few months, our Board and our management team strongly believe that positioning GEO for a REIT conversion will maximize our company's ability to create shareholder value given the nature of our assets, help lower our cost of capital, draw a larger base of potential shareholders, provide greater flexibility to pursue growth opportunities, and create a more efficient operating structure."
“We believe these actions will enable our shareholders to begin enjoying the benefits of REIT status as soon as possible. Similarly, our Board felt strongly that the declaration of a special dividend this year relating to a REIT conversion provides our shareholders with maximum value as year-end approaches,” said Zoley.
"Fundamentally, GEO is in a real estate intensive industry. Our present company profile has evolved over several years, during which time, we have developed and financed many new detention and correctional facilities for federal and state government clients. Importantly, the REIT conversion would have no impact on our valued clients worldwide who will continue to receive high-quality services with industry-leading practices through our diversified business units," Zoley added.