Wanderlust…

The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

Abu Dhabi buys Chrysler building

Posted by vmsalama on July 10, 2008

My favorite building in my hometown of New York City has been gobbled up by the wealthy Sheikhs of Abu Dhabi.  It seems that given the current economic environment in the United States, the country has no choice but to hold a bit of a garage sale!!!  For God sake, even Budweiser – “America’s Beer” – was just sold to the Belgians.  

 

Abu Dhabi Buys 90% Stake in Chrysler Building

 

The government of Abu Dhabi bought a 90 percent stake in the Chrysler Building on Tuesday for $800 million from German real estate investors and Tishman Speyer.

But while it might seem that the buyer, the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, got a controlling interest in the Art Deco tower, a landmark, for that kind of money, that was not the case.

Despite having only a 10 percent holding, Tishman Speyer Properties will continue to control the property and manage it, much as it has since 1997, because it controls the land beneath the 77-story tower, with its trademark stainless steel crown, gargoyles and elevator cabs that evoke the chrome-laden autos of the 1930s.

Tishman Speyer Properties and the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, an arm of the Gulf emirate government, which tends to shun publicity, did not return calls requesting comment.

Teresa Miller, a spokeswoman for Prudential Real Estate Investors, which managed the German fund, confirmed on Wednesday that “we no longer own a 75 percent stake in the Chrysler Building.”

Ms. Miller declined to disclose the fund’s sale price. But real estate executives who were told about the transaction said that Tishman Speyer sold the investment council an additional 15 percent, and that the total price was $800 million. The investment council is also negotiating to buy the retail space in the seven-story glass Trylons, or pavilion, that Tishman Speyer built next to the Chrysler Building.

Tishman Speyer and its partner, Travelers Group, bought the Chrysler Building, at 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue, and the adjoining Kent Building in 1997 for about $220 million from a consortium of banks and the estate of Jack Kent Cooke.

Jerry I. Speyer, the chairman of Tishman Speyer, outmaneuvered competing bidders for the property by pre-emptively securing a 150-year lease with Cooper Union, which owns the land underneath the tower.

The tower was built in 1930 by Walter P. Chrysler, the automaker, and was briefly the tallest building in New York, losing out months later to the Empire State Building.

The Chrysler Building’s lobby featured African marble and chrome, and the Sky Club on the 66th floor offered spectacular views.

But by the 1970s, the building was badly in need of refurbishing.

Tishman Speyer poured $100 million into a three-year renovation, which included erecting a retail pavilion on East 42nd Street under three glass pyramids between the Chrysler Building and the 32-story Kent Building, which was not included in the sale.

Less than four years later, Travelers sold its 75 percent stake for $300 million to the German real estate fund, TMW. “Tishman Speyer will maintain a controlling interest and full decision-making authority” over the building, Mr. Speyer said at the time.

Prudential later acquired TMW and sold its share of the Chrysler Building on Tuesday. Such funds generally buy assets for five to seven years and are not interested in being long-term owners of real estate.

Ms. Miller of Prudential Real Estate said that the fund had earned a 20 percent annual return on its investment in the Chrysler Building, the last property in that fund to be sold before it closes.

Last year, TMW and Tishman Speyer sold 666 Fifth Avenue, a 1.5-million-square-foot office tower, for $1.8 billion. They had bought it in 2000 for $518 million from Sumitomo Realty, a Japanese company that acquired the building in 1988 for $488.6 million.

Japanese companies and institutions flooded into New York during the 1980s real estate boom, with Mitsubishi Estate’s purchase of Rockefeller Center touching off an outcry over foreign control of American property.

The Japanese lost a fortune after property values plunged by 50 percent during a recession in the early 1990s.

Since 2000, German groups have been vying with Middle Eastern interests to be the top foreign investors in New York office towers, apartment buildings and hotels, according to Real Capital Analytics, a research firm. Together, they have accounted for $22 billion of the $30.2 billion invested by foreign entities over the past seven years.

In 2001, German investors accounted for virtually all of the foreign investment in New York. But with prices escalating sharply in 2007, Middle Eastern interests spent $4.4 billion for New York property, compared with the Germans’ $1.8 billion.

Still, with American companies like BlackRock and Apollo raising huge amounts of money from individual investors and institutions around the world, it has become difficult to determine the national origin of investment groups today, said Dan Fasulo, a managing director of Real Capital Analytics.

 

 

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One Response to “Abu Dhabi buys Chrysler building”

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