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Sale of Macklowe’s GM Building Looking Likely

May 20, 2008

After many months of speculation and the fact that Macklowe went into default on the short term loans he took to acquire a seven building portfolio from Blackstone (some details here), Macklowe seems to have lined up some buyers for his landmark GM building (which is also home of the Apple “Glass Cube” Store), along with other properties he controls.

In February it was rumoured he retained CB Richard Ellis to market and solicit bids for his building, which at that time was said to be worth north of $3 Billion. It appears, according to the WSJ, that a consortium of Middle-Eastern buyers along with Goldman Sachs, and Boston Properties have lined up to acquire the trophy asset in a $3.6B deal which includes some other buildings and developable land. The value of the GM building is pegged at around $2.8B, several hundred million less than what it was hoped the building would fetch.

This sale, if it goes through, would help make its lender whole, but due to tax implications and the need to pay off the existing mortgage, might mean that Harry Macklowe might still come up a bit short and might have to dip into other “personal savings” or assets to fully remedy the loans that were taken out to acquire the buildings from Equity Office/Blackstone.

Just two days ago Mort Zuckerman, Chairman of Boston Properties, was quizzed on an earnings call what his take was about the Macklowe situation. His answer was:

“Let me give you a nice vague answer to that question. You know our history and we have always taken a look at premier properties, which may fit very well into Boston Properties’ portfolio, as [Mike] mentioned. [Lots] of quality, location, et cetera.

We also have a history of not commenting on transactions or potential transactions that are highly speculative until such time as we feel that there is something to say that’s really — that has substance to it. So, I don’t think we can speculate on what the pricing of the Macklowe Properties will be or anything else. I mean, they’re — it’s a complicated transaction for whoever makes it and we’ll see what happens.”

What this deal shows is that while the effect of lax lending standards and the subprime mess continue to sort themselves out on the residential side, we’re just beginning to see the effects of the same on the commercial side. Some are able to structure deals allowing them to get out from under assets, but we’ll undoubtedly be seeing more and more situations in which the lenders are essentially in control of the sale.

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