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ESRT: Tony Malkin on COVID, ESG and the Enduring Power of NYC

Episode 18 / August 2021

Southeastern’s CEO and Head of Research, Ross Glotzbach, interviews Tony Malkin, CEO, President and Chairman of Empire State Realty Trust.

Ross and Tony start by discussing Tony’s background, having grown up in the real estate industry, how he forged his own path and how that lead him to ESRT [1:04-6:23]. Tony describes ESRT’s unusual IPO process [6:26-11:27] and discusses how having a separate family office helps him as a real estate operator [11:30-16:16]. Next, they discuss the iconic nature of the Empire State Building Observatory and how it has quickly adapted in the COVID environment [16:18-23:35]. They then discuss how ESRT has been a leader in prioritizing ESG initiatives even before the company’s IPO [23:42-27:43]. Tony discusses plans to reach net-zero by 2035 [27:47-31:59] and talks about Governance at ESRT, covering the supervoting share structure, as well as capital allocation considerations like when is the best time to buy back shares [32:00-38:32]. Next, they shift to discuss how Tony and team navigated the business through the COVID environment and how it impacted everything from the safety of its buildings and tenants, capital allocation decisions and M&A opportunities [38:37-46:00]. Tony describes how the Observatory was the first New York attraction to reopen in July 2020 and discusses how he know that both NYC and ESRT would bounce back from the pandemic [46:03-49:36]. Finally, Tony ends by sharing what he learned by leading a public company over the last 18 months  [49:40-52:00] and what he likes to do with his family in New York City [52:10-54:10].