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Piedmont, Former Wells REIT, Goes Public

In a long-anticipated – and closely-watched – move, Atlanta-based Piedmont Office Realty Trust began trading on the New York Stock Exchange today. Under the ticker symbol “PDM,” shares in the real estate investment trust were up $0.85, closing at $15.60 after opening at $14.75.

Analysts were disappointed that the 12 million shares of stock offered were initially priced at $14.50, well below the expected range of $16 to $18 a share. However, by the close of trading the stock had made up much of that perceived value deficit.

Piedmont is the former Wells REIT, which was first established by native Georgian Leo Wells back in 1998. It controls a $4 billion portfolio of office buildings nationwide, including a few marquee properties like the Aon Center in downtown Chicago and the Nestle headquarters in Los Angeles.

In 2007, Piedmont was spun off into a separate, self-managed entity under the guidance of CEO Don Miller.

Throughout much of this decade, Wells came under intense scrutiny from a variety of pundits who were skeptical of the so-called “private REIT” industry. That moniker was a misnomer anyway, since the Wells REIT and follow-on Wells REIT II were both structured as public companies but were not traded on any major stock exchange.

In a sign of acceptance, Wells chairman Leo Wells was recently appointed to the board of directors of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, or NAREIT.

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