Posts Tagged ‘Merrill Lynch’

A New Chapter for Iconic Empire State Building

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The landmark 102-story Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan could raise as much as $1 billion in a share sale and become a real estate investment trust (REIT), if the company that controls that iconic structure if its plans pan out.  According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Empire State Realty Trust, Inc., intends to list the shares on the New York Stock Exchange.  The firm, Malkin Holdings, LLC, will consolidate a group of closely held companies to form the REIT as part of the IPO, according to a separate filing.

Malkin, supervisor of the company the holds the title to the tower, said that it had “embarked on a course of action” that could result in the Empire State Building becoming part of a new REIT.  Malkin Holdings supervises property-owning partnerships led by Peter and Anthony Malkin, and owns the 2.9 million-square-foot Empire State Building in conjunction with the estate of Leona Helmsley.  Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. will advise on the IPO.  The price and number of shares were not disclosed in the filing.

The proposed IPO would give investors a rare opportunity to own a piece of one of the world’s most famous buildings as New York’s real estate values rebound after the recession.  Midtown Manhattan office property prices have recovered 87 percent of their value since bottoming out in mid-2009, according to Green Street Advisors Inc., a REIT research firm.

The REIT would consolidate Manhattan and New York area properties owned by companies including Empire State Building Associates LLC, 60 East 42nd St. Associates LLC and 250 West 57th St. Associates LLC. Participants can opt to receive cash instead of shares for as much as 15 percent of the value.

Since gaining control of the building 10 years ago, Malkin has invested tens of millions of dollars to improve the office spaces and cut the cost of heating and maintaining the 81-year-old structure.  That helped attract tenants such as social networking site LinkedIn.  According to the SEC filing, Malkin said that upgrading the building still requires additional investment of between $55 million and $65 million over the next four years.

As with many recent tech and internet IPOs, the company plans to have two classes of stock — class A shares that are sold to the public and worth one vote, as well as class B shares with 50 votes each.  The structure leaves the Malkin family with significant control.  The proceeds will pay existing stakeholders in the buildings who chose to take cash in exchange for their interests, and to repay debt.  The REIT will list itself on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “ESB.”

The Malkins realize that leasing in New York is “highly competitive,” and faces new rivals in the skyline, primarily the One World Trade Center, which will have a broadcast antenna and observation deck that could attract tenants away from the Empire State Building.

At 1,250 feet and 102 floors, the art deco-style building is one of New York City’s most recognizable tourist destinations, enjoying its second stint as the city’s tallest building.  It was the world’s tallest building from its 1931 opening until 1974, when the 442-meter Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) was completed in Chicago.

The building played a starring role in several movies, most notably “King Kong,” “An Affair to Remember” and “Sleepless in Seattle.”

The Rich Still Are Different

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

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The wealth of the world’s high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) declined by nearly one fifth last year to $33 trillion, according to the 2009 World Wealth Report from Merrill Lynch and Capgemini.  A HNWI has at least $1 million of assets besides a primary residence, its contents and collectible items.  In 2008, the number of HNWIs fell to 8.6 million, or slightly more than 0.1 percent of the world’s population.

Their wealth declined by more than 20 percent in North America, Europe and Asia, and by a bit less in Africa and the Middle East.  Latin America’s rich were the least affected: they lost just six percent of their wealth, and the number of HNWIs there fell by less than one percent.  In North America, which had a large proportion of people just above the $1 million threshold, the ranks slimmed by 19 percent.

An interesting aside:  That $33 trillion is almost half of the $70 trillion that constitutes the subset of global savings known as fixed-income securities – or, all the money in the world.

The Federal Government Takes First Steps to Bail Out Banks

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

The Treasury Department is spending the first $250 billion of the $700 billion rescue bill that Congress recently approved in an attempt to defuse the financial crisis that has dominated the headlines for weeks.  According to a recent article on GlobeSt.com, the move – which partially nationalizes the banking system – is seen by some as conflicting with the free-market principles that typically have characterized the American economy. To shore up the United States banking system, the Treasury Department is partially nationalizing nine banks by using $125 billion to purchase minority stakes in major financial institutions.  Although the banks haven’t been named, they are believed to include Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, State Street and Bank of New York Mellon Corporation.  The Treasury Department is also expected to make the remaining $125 billion available to banks and thrifts across the country to purchase their preferred shares.

According to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, “Today’s actions are not what we ever wanted to do, but are what we must do to restore confidence to our financial system.  The needs of the economy require that our financial institutions not take this new capital to hoard it, but to deploy it.”  Just weeks before the presidential election, outgoing President George W. Bush sees the move as a short-term measure.  “The government’s role will be limited and temporary.  These measures are not intended to take over the free market, but to preserve it,” Bush said.

The question now is whether the banks will use the capital as the government intends – lend it to businesses and consumers again – or will they use it to sweeten their own balance sheets?  The government, no doubt, intends to exert significant pressure on the institutions to loosen credit so that people can start buying big-ticket items like houses and cars again.

Keep Your Eye on the Little Guy

Monday, March 24th, 2008

With the current upheaval in the capital markets and the news that Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley have written off $70 billion in loans, it is interesting to note a whole cadre of financial institutions that are doing gangbusters.  According to an article in the 2/19/08 USA Today by Matt Krantz, smaller banks which avoided the enticement of lowering underwriting standards and issuing subprime loans, are on average, only 6% off their 52 week high.  Most of these names are unfamiliar — Danvers, First Merchants and Oriental Financial.  As the heavily leveraged buyers retrench and the access to bridge loans and mezzanine financing pulls back, could we see a number of well capitalized small cap financial institutions step in to fill the void in the commercial real estate investment market?