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Koll Group Founder Takes CEO Duties

Real estate: Chairman Donald Koll is replacing Ray Wirta, who now will devote more time to other role as chief executive of property management arm.


NEWPORT BEACH — Donald Koll, chairman and founder of Koll Real Estate Group Inc. said he will also now serve as chief executive of the company, which on Thursday reported a drop in sales and a $7.6-million loss for the third quarter.

Koll replaces Ray Wirta, who relinquished the position to devote more time to his other management role as CEO of Koll Real Estate Services, the property management piece of the Koll empire, officials said.

Raymond Pacini, chief financial officer of Koll Real Estate Group, said the management change does not signal either dissatisfaction with Wirta's performance or a change in direction for the company.

Donald Koll "has always been in control of the company," Pacini said. "He has the upmost faith in Ray Wirta, but there are some greater demands on [Wirta's] time from the property management company."

Analysts concurred. "I don't think it will be any different with Don in charge," said Alfred Gobar of Alfred Gobar Associates in Placentia.


Koll will be pressed, however, to find a way to bring his company back to profitability. The Real Estate Group is owner and would-be developer of the environmentally sensitive Bolsa Chica property along the coastline near Huntington Beach.

The company posted a loss of $7.6 million, or 16 cents per share, in the latest quarter, compared with a loss of $8.5 million, or 18 cents per share, in the comparable quarter a year earlier.

Third-quarter sales fell to $6.4 million from $6.8 million a year earlier. For the first nine months of 1996, the company reported a loss of $22.2 million on sales of $25.1 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $16.9 million on sales of $18.9 million.

The company said residential sales at projects in California and Michigan increased and revenue from its commercial development also improved. But Pacini said the improved operating results were masked by interest expense of $16.7 million over the first nine months of the year.

To finance its operations, the company has issued debentures that mature in 2002 and can be converted to stock at that point.

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