The GEO Group, Inc. (NYSE: GEO) ("GEO") today announced that it has received a favorable private letter ruling from the Internal Revenue Service in connection with GEO’s previously announced conversion to a real estate investment trust (“REIT”). GEO also has received an opinion from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, which advised GEO on its REIT conversion that GEO qualifies as a REIT. Based on the receipt of the private letter ruling and the Skadden REIT opinion, GEO’s Board of Directors (the “Board”) has authorized GEO to elect REIT status effective January 1, 2013. GEO will seek inclusion in the appropriate REIT indices at the earliest possible date.
GEO also announced that on January 17, 2013, the Board declared GEO’s first ever quarterly cash dividend as a REIT of $0.50 per share of common stock based on GEO’s new outstanding share count of approximately 71.3 million, which includes the issuance of approximately 9.7 million shares in connection with GEO’s previously announced $350 million special dividend which was paid on December 31, 2012. GEO’s quarterly REIT cash dividend of $0.50 per share will be paid on March 1, 2013 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on February 15, 2013.
George C. Zoley, GEO's Chairman, CEO and Founder, said, “We are very pleased to have received a favorable private letter ruling from the Internal Revenue Service. This important milestone validates the decisive actions taken by our Board and our management team to position GEO to achieve REIT status effective January 1, 2013 and enable our shareholders to begin enjoying the benefits of REIT status as soon as possible. We are also delighted that we were able to complete our earnings and profits distribution in 2012, which provided our shareholders with maximum value. The declaration of our first quarterly cash dividend as a REIT of $0.50 per share and our expected total annual dividends of $2.00 per share in 2013 are indicative of our continued commitment to return value to our shareholders.”