Empire State Building Deal Looks Set To Move Forward

Judge Sees 'Simple' Sale of Iconic 102-Story Skyscraper

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By Reuters

Published April 29, 2013.
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A New York judge signaled on Monday he would probably allow the group that controls the Empire State Building to proceed with a plan to sell off the fabled New York landmark as part of a public stock offering despite the objections of dissident investors.

Malkin Holdings wants to roll the 102-story tower in midtown Manhattan into a real estate investment trust with 18 other properties and launch shares on the New York Stock Exchange through an IPO that could generate $1 billion depending upon demand for the shares at the time of the offering.

A small group of investors are seeking to stop Malkin, but on Monday they received a clear indication they were heading for defeat.

“My tentative view is that this matter is pretty straightforward,” said New York State Supreme Court Justice O. Peter Sherwood, noting that he was leaning toward giving the green light to the Malkin plan. He said he would issue his written decision by the end of Tuesday at the latest.

The building, which ranked as the world’s tallest for four decades after its completion in 1931, is one of the most recognizable features of the New York skyline.

The plan could bring a windfall to the Malkin family, who has ownership stakes in all the properties proposed for the REIT. Its stake could be valued as much as $714 million after the REIT goes public.

The Leona Helmsley estate, a major investor in the company that sublets and manages the Empire State Building and other properties in the REIT, could see its stake valued at about $1.03 billion, according to an filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

OBJECTIONS TO PLAN

The plan requires the support of at least 80 percent of each of three groups of investors in the tower, which is owned by Empire State Building Associates LLC, an entity controlled by Malkin.

Once Malkin reaches that threshold, it claims the right to force holdouts to sell back their units for $100 each unless they fall in line. The units, held by 2,824 investors, could be worth more than $320,000 apiece if the REIT, to be called Empire State Realty Trust Inc, goes public.


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