HCP Hires Brinker as CIO, Welltower Responds With Lawsuit

HCP Inc. (NYSE: HCP) has added a familiar face as its chief investment officer—but a former employer of the new executive has responded to the appointment with a lawsuit.

HCP’s plans are for Scott Brinker to join the Irvine, California-based real estate investment trust (REIT) as its executive vice president and CIO, effective Jan. 4, 2018. Brinker will report to HCP CEO Tom Herzog, the company announced Monday.

Brinker already is well known to the senior housing industry, having formerly been CIO of Toledo, Ohio-based REIT Welltower Inc. (NYSE: HCN). He left Welltower in January 2017 after working in various roles and capacities since July 2001.

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“Scott will be a tremendous addition as we continue to successfully execute our strategic initiatives and grow our company,” Herzog said in a press release. “He has an outstanding track record of building and asset managing large-scale portfolios through a disciplined investment process, and we are excited to welcome him to our company.”

The news was not received positively by Welltower, however.

On Monday, the REIT filed documents in the Court of Common Pleas, Lucas County, Ohio, claiming that Brinker violated his separation agreement with Welltower by engaging in discussions with HCP—one of Welltower’s competitors—prior to his appointment as HCP’s CIO. The court granted Welltower’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Expedited Discovery on Monday afternoon.

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“Welltower holds Mr. Brinker fully accountable for breaching the terms of his Separation Agreement with Welltower based upon his contact and communications with HCP, Inc.,” Barbara Montresor, Welltower’s senior vice president, media and communications, said in an emailed statement to Senior Housing News.

Under the terms of the court order, Brinker is enjoined from communicating directly or indirectly with HCP, pursuing or facilitating employment with the company, or using or disclosing any confidential information regarding Welltower.

The REIT plans to pursue “all available remedies to protect its interests,” Montresor added.

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HCP—which is not a named defendant in the suit—maintains that the hiring process was above-board.

“We’re aware of the temporary restraining order and legal actions that Welltower is taking against Scott Brinker,” HCP CEO Tom Herzog told SHN. “During our process with Scott, we were very careful to neither request nor receive any confidential or proprietary information. We also obtained legal advice to establish protocols to ensure compliance with the obligations under his agreements with Welltower. All we have done is offer Scott a job upon expiration of his non-compete agreement, and Scott has accepted our offer. Scott is well-known and highly regarded in our industry and a perfect fit for HCP. We look forward to welcoming him to our company.”

The addition of Brinker comes at a time of great change for HCP, as a portion of the company’s “new generation of leadership” is scheduled to leave the company. In April, HCP President Justin Hutchens announced his plans to leave the REIT to become CEO of UK-based care home operator HC-One. Kai Hsaio, the company’s executive vice president-senior housing properties, is leaving as well.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson with reporting by Tim Mullaney

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