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Where do U go, U-Store-It?

The show's over, and it's back to business as usual. I've spent the past couple of days reacquainting myself with self-storage in the news. I found the anticipated palette of spectacles including arson, robberies and vandalism ... But what the heck is going on at U-Store-It?

Several articles in last week's The Plain Dealer and an editorial in The Motley Fool tell how a dispute within the self-storage REIT lead to the boot of three members of the company's founding family, the Amsdells. Actually, one resigned, but the other two were helped on their way.

Apparently the rift came after inquiry into the activities of its now former Chairman, Robert Amsdell, and his son, Todd, who was serving as president of U-Store-It subsidiary. The question on the table is whether these two violated contract provisions that prevent them from luring company employees away to start rival ventures. Letters and memos provided to the SEC indicate suspicions that the family had hired away U-Store-It employees for Rising Tide, a company controlled by Robert and Barry Amsdell that partners with U-Store-It on some properties.

Their disputes with Chief Executive Dean Jernigan aside, the split could ultimately prove auspicious for the Amsdell family, the largest shareholder of U-Store-It stock. They are now free to explore "strategic alternatives" that could lead them to "urge, explore or even participate in a takeover," according to the Plain Dealer. The Amsdells own about 20 percent of the REIT's common shares.

Anyone with comments and insights regarding this unexpected development is encouraged to bring them to the blog.


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