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New Collection in the Archives! Great American Management and Investment records

August 08, 2014

Written by Leslie O’Neill, Archivist

Great American Management and Investment Inc. (GAMI) is a holding company as well as a manufacturer of electrical equipment. In 1960, a piece of tax legislation was enacted that exempted certain types of real estate trusts from taxation. Born out of this legislation was the REIT or real estate investment trust. The 1960’s saw great growth in the investment trust industry and towards the end of the decade, the Atlanta-based financial holding company, Unicorp, began operating as a REIT business through its consulting subsidiary, Great American Management Corp. Within Great American Management Corporation was a separate unit, Great American Management and Investment, that began building a portfolio of lending operations throughout the southern states of the United States, primarily in Florida, Georgia, and Texas. GAMI restricted its lending to development loans and short –term construction projects, as well as conducted equity participation agreements directly with developers.

At the end of its first year of operation, GAMI had reported earnings of more than $43 million in net invested assets, and a year later, that number grew to nearly $240 million, placing GAMI as the sixth largest REIT enterprise in the country. About 80 percent of its lending was concentrated in construction lending, 13 percent in land loans, and six percent in junior mortgage loans. GAMI floated $25 million in senior subordinated debentures and this enabled the company to build a tiered debt structure. The flotation expanded GAMI’s borrowing base from $80 million to about $105 million, and ballooned its total leveraged debt reserve from $238 million to more than $313 million. Later, due to the withholding of crude oil to the United States and a recession of the American economy, GAMI was left with tremendous debt and as the target of several lawsuits.

In March of 1977, GAMI filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. After years of turmoil, change, and new ownership, GAMI is today a diversified holding company, controlled by Samuel Zell and Equity Financial. Before the effective date of the Code, this was one of the larger public REIT’s reorganized in the 1970’s. 

The records of Great American Management Investment are comprised of the documents of the initial pleadings and the closing documents. Within each series, the material may contain petitions, applications, stays, memorandums, correspondence, and other related documents.

The collection is open for research and the finding aid is available here. Questions? Email the Archivist at biddlearchives@law.upenn.edu