Many corporate board appointments aren’t particularly newsworthy. But Equinix made an interesting appointment today, announcing that veteran real estate investment specialist Irving F. Lyons, III has joined its board of directors, which now has six members. Lyons is the Principal at Lyons Asset Management, a California-based private investment firm, and previously served as co-chairman and chief investment officer for Prologis, the world’s largest industrial real estate investment trust (REIT).
At Prologis Lyons spcialized in “the acquisition, development, and ownership of distribution facilities, where he was responsible for all investment activities during a period of rapid expansion,” according to the release. He currently serves on the board of directors of BRE, a multi-facility REIT of $2.5 billion, as well as on the Investment Committee of the UC Berkeley Foundation board of directors.
Is it just a coincidence that an executive with enormous experience in real estate acquisition – and REITs in particular – has joined Equinix’ board?
The company’s release is straightforward, offering no guidance as to how Lyons’ expertise might be utilized. But there’s no doubt that Equinix has become more focused on real estate during the past year, first acquiring its Northern Virginia data center campus for $53 million and more recently buying one of its flagship Silicon Valley facilities in San Jose for $65 million. Construction continues on new IBX centers in Chicago and Secaucus, N.J., and Equinix executives have also said the Northern Virginia market could support additional new construction.
Meanwhile, other publicly held data center service providers have been unveiling expansion projects in recent months. SAVVIS Communications is using the proceeds from the sale of its content distribution network to fund the construction of four new data centers, while Terremark is moving ahead with plans for new data centers in northern Virginia and Silicon Valley.
What about the REIT angle? During the company’s third quarter 2006 conference call, one of the analysts noted that much of the company’s revenue came from rent, and wondered whether Equinix had considered restructuring as a REIT along the lines of Digital Realty Trust. “It’s something we’ve looked at, but we haven’t found a pathway as to if that makes sense or if we would qualify (for REIT status),” CEO Peter Van Camp replied.