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Empire State Building's owners get second offer to buy landmark

A full moon rises behind the Empire State Building and the skyline of New York, as people watch from a park along the Hudson River in Hoboke
A full moon rises behind the Empire State Building and the skyline of New York, as people watch from a park along the Hudson River in Hoboke

By Ilaina Jonas

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The owners of the Empire State Building, an iconic part of New York's skyline, have received another unsolicited offer to buy the landmark skyscraper, which is set to become the centerpiece of a real estate investment trust that would become publicly traded, according to a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

Malkin Holdings LLC, which oversees the Empire State Building's investors and operations, said in a letter to investors that it was reviewing two unsolicited bids - one for $2.1 billion and the other for $2 billion - to buy the 102-story building. The letter was included in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

"We consider all matters, including unsolicited offers, consistent with our fiduciary duties, to form a judgment on what action is appropriate," Malkin Holdings said in the letter. "We do not intend to issue a comment until after our review."

Opened in 1931 during the Great Depression, the Empire State Building is one of New York City's leading tourist attractions - known for its Art Deco tower and its colored lights at night. The building, listed as a National Historic Landmark, has been featured in movies ranging from "King Kong" to "An Affair to Remember" and "Annie Hall."

Meister Seelig & Fein LLP, the law firm representing investors who oppose the REIT plan, disclosed a letter last week from privately held Cammeby's International Group offering to buy the building for $2 billion.

The second bidder's identity was not disclosed in the most recent SEC filing.

Malkin Holdings led the plan to put the Empire State Building and more than 17 other properties into a real estate investment trust called Empire State Realty Trust Inc, which would become publicly traded under the proposed symbol "ESB" on the New York Stock Exchange. Investors recently approved the REIT plan by a super majority.

Malkin Holdings, the Helmsley Trust and investors would have to approve a sale. The Helmsley Trust is the majority owner of the company that owns the building's master lease. The master lease expires in 2076.

An appraisal conducted last summer valued the Empire State Building at about $2.33 billion, after debt, according to the SEC filing. Including the mortgage, the historic skyscraper is valued at about $2.53 billion, that appraisal showed.

(This story has been refiled to fix spelling to read "estate" and not "state" in first paragraph)

(Editing by Jan Paschal)

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