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Time Warner Nearing Sale of Manhattan Headquarters for $1.3 Billion (Report)

Time Warner Center Manhattan New York City - H 2012
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The entertainment conglomerate has been looking at leaving the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle for a new skyscraper to consolidate its operations.

Time Warner is closing in on a deal to sell its midtown Manhattan headquarters to real estate firm Related Cos. for $1.3 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

A sales agreement for the Time Warner Center, on whose construction the entertainment conglomerate spent around $520 million about a decade ago, could be announced as early as Thursday, it said.

A Time Warner representative declined to comment.

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Sources have said that Time Warner has focused on a sale of its current building at Columbus Circle that would allow it to lease office space there for about five years before consolidating it's New York operations in a new building. It currently has seven different office locations in the Big Apple.

That building could be a new commercial tower that Related has been developing in the Hudson Yards neighborhood on Manhattan's far West Side, south of Times Square. The conglomerate is believed to have reached a tentative agreement to move into the 80-story skyscraper set to be built at the corner of 10th Avenue and 33rd Street. Other options include a new development on the site of the former World Trade Center.

Time Warner, led by chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes, has been exploring its real estate options for about two and a half years in an effort to save money and consolidate the staff of its various operations. Most of its current New York leases are up in 2017.

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The far West of Manhattan has cheaper real estate. Previous chatter was that TW could save as much as $100-million-plus by moving office space.

Related has offered to sell the new office space at cost to get TW as an anchor tenant, hoping to make money from the retail and residential parts of the real estate development, according to previous reports.

The Time Warner Center sale could be one of the biggest in a recent slew of commercial real estate deals in the U.S. that have relied on foreign investors.

Related is financing its bid for the Time Warner Center with backing from so-called sovereign-wealth funds from Abu Dhabi and Singapore, sources told the Journal. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. would own most of the property venture, but Related would manage the building, the paper said.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai