From 1973 to the present, Gene E. Phillips has held executive positions with numerous companies involved in all types and facets of the financial, insurance and real estate industries. Gene began his real estate investment career in South Carolina, in 1964. During the next 13 years, he bought, sold and developed all types of real estate properties worth several hundred million dollars, primarily in the eastern United States.
Because most of the investment opportunities in the late '70s were in Texas, Gene packed up his family and his real estate operation, and moved to Dallas. During the next 10 years, from 1979 to 1989, Gene acquired 50 companies and over 1,000 properties worth more than $20 billion, consisting of real estate, insurance and finance. Perhaps one of Gene's most challenging enterprises was Southmark, an Atlanta-based real estate trust with $100 million in assets. His interest peaked when he realized its stock was trading for less than the value of the real estate it owned. Gifted at understanding and creating complex financial deals, Gene saw an opportunity. With a $15 million investment, he bought enough stock to gain majority control of the company in 1979.
Over the next seven years, Southmark grew from having $100 million in assets to becoming a $17 billion conglomerate with a diversified portfolio of companies and real estate.
In 1982, Gene Phillips, through Southmark, took control of a small oil and gas operation known then as Parker & Parsley Petroleum. In less than 10 years, he grew the company to nearly $1 billion in assets with operations in all phases of hydrocarbon exploration and development.
Southmark was the sponsor of over 1,000 real estate investment partnerships that were economically structured in accordance with pre-1986 tax law. As a result of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and the unprecedented changes in the existing tax law, significant tax advantages for taxpayers investing in real estate were eliminated. As one of the largest tax advantaged limited partnership sponsors and investors, the company suffered severe economic hardship in its existing partnerships along with the virtual termination of this line of business.
Gene and Southmark board members strongly disagreed on the company's recovery strategy, so Gene disassociated himself from the company in January 1989. By July 14, 1989 the company filed for bankruptcy.
Years Later, Gene continued to grow his real estate empire, that at times has totaled over 3.5 billion in assets.
Gene is also involved with many international companies and finds ways to use his talent and experience to assist them in achieving tremendous results.
He is the chairman of Balkan Energy Company LLC, which is a privately-owned energy company that handles power projects outside the U.S.
He managed and dramatically grew the operations of a cable company located in Bulgaria, and was involved with an oil and gas drilling company in Bulgaria and Poland.
Gene was also instrumental in the establishment and operations of Realty Advisors Korea, a Real Estate Investment Trust (R.E.I.T.), one of the first publicly traded real estate trusts in the Republic of Korea. The forming of this R.E.I.T. is symbolic of the Phillips family's belief in the soundness of the Korean economy. The trust, a co-investment with Korean institutions such as the Korean Exchange Bank, had over $400 million in assets under management, that have been sold off for a significant sum, thus creating strong financial gains for its partners.
With great success comes the scrutiny of the media spotlight. Though there have been a number of favorable business articles written on Gene, the fall of Southmark and the subsequent legal filings brought on some negative press. Gene's position is to keep the issues private, negotiate a resolution, and return assets to the rebuilding process as quickly as possible. Gene Phillips' primary focus is to develop successful properties and companies and build a positive legacy.