Levitt Corp. shareholders at the company's annual meeting on Tuesday, May 20 approved a company name change. The Levitt name was replaced with Woodbridge Holdings Corp. [NYSE: WDG], a move executives said reflected management's intention to expand its portfolio beyond real estate holdings.
"We believe the new name is appropriate given the company's current and future business strategy, which will include acquisitions and investments both within and outside the real estate industry," said Alan B. Levan, company chairman and CEO, in a statement.
While the name change may signal a shift in corporate investment philosophy, it also severs remaining namesake ties to its bankrupt home building subsidiary, Levitt & Sons.
Levitt & Sons filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Nov. 9, 2007, in Fort Lauderdale, after corporate management refused to throw the home building subsidiary a life preserver by distributing more cash to the struggling subsidiary. Cash poor, the home builder ceased making interest payments on $2.6 million in debt owed to five lenders, triggering additional defaults on $181.5 million in loans and a $125 million revolving credit facility.
The bankruptcy has been a high-profile blemish on the corporate face. Levitt & Sons was the housing downturn's first public builder casualty. Moreover, the bankruptcy filing marked the painful passing of production home building's founding father. Founded in 1927, Levitt & Sons matured into one of the industry's biggest brands post-WWII with the construction of the mass-produced Levittown communities in the Northeast. Since the filing, home building operations have seized up, leaving many communities unfinished and hundreds of Levitt buyers out thousands of dollars in deposits on homes that won't be built.