Post Properties ( PPS) has always been more than a quiet, boring real estate investment trust. After all, the company's upscale branding strategy relies on being noticed and recognized. But these days, Post is scoring a pile of extra attention via a nasty civil war. Post and the ambitious man who founded it are firing loud shots at one another as they head toward a battle for control at Thursday's annual meeting. Post's current leadership, recently endorsed by the nation's largest proxy advisory firm, is viewed as the heavy favorite. But company founder John Williams -- new to the underdog role -- has already shown that he can fight like a pit bull. He's clamped down on Post's management and, some believe, won't rest until he regains his grip on the fancy apartment empire he started more than three decades ago. "I don't think he has a chance of winning," said one Wall Street expert. "But I don't think he'll go away when the proxy fight's over, either. His whole problem is not the value of Post's shares; it's the fact that he doesn't control the company anymore. John Williams cannot let go." The retired CEO, stripped of his chairmanship a decade early, adamantly claims otherwise. He has, in fact, promised to reject any executive position at the company and even give up his current board seat if his efforts prevail. But in both campaigns, promises have taken a back seat to attacks. Each party blames the other for harming the company and overlooking the best interests of its shareholders. In the end, neither side has managed to look particularly strong or noble. "On a quarterly basis, the REIT world is kind of sleepy," admitted one industry expert. "This gives us something good to watch. It's fun."
The drama officially began when Williams shattered the industry calm with a rare proxy fight, launched seven weeks ago.