TORONTO - The private equity firm that is trying to replace the board at Artis Real Estate Investment Trust says it has won the support of the trust's largest unitholder.

Jetport Inc., owner of a 13.3 per cent stake in Artis, says it plans to vote in favour of the five Sandpiper Group nominees to the board as well as two of the existing trustees - Ben Rodney and Lauren Zucker. It also says it will vote against an Artis plan to spin off its retail portfolio into a new real estate trust.

Jetport president and CEO Steven Joyce is the son of Tim Hortons co-founder Ron Joyce, who used the aircraft charter company as a holding company for his investments.

Artis proposed a plan last month that would see it spin off its retail portfolio into a new real estate trust and focus on its North American industrial and office businesses. The retail trust is expected to hold 40 properties in Western Canada.

Sandpiper opposes the plan and has said it would cut costs and increase distributions if it wins its fight to replace the Artis board.

A unitholder meeting has been set for Feb. 23, 2021, to vote on the trustees.