3/12/04: Met Life Sells Sears Tower to Larry Silverstein Partners
MetLife Will Sell
By Dean Starkman
From The Wall Street Journal Online
Two investors who are part of Larry Silverstein's group that owns
the World Trade Center lease are among the buyers of the Sears Tower,
which MetLife Inc. agreed to sell Thursday for more than $800
million, according to people familiar with the situation.
Lloyd Goldman and Joseph Cayre, New York investors who are among
Mr. Silverstein's backers in the Trade Center, are part of a group
that agreed to buy the Chicago landmark, these people said. Another
New York investor, Jeffrey Feil, was also a participant in the Sears
Tower deal, the people said. Names of the other investors couldn't be
MetLife announced the agreement Thursday, but declined to disclose
the buyer or the terms, citing a confidentiality agreement. While the
insurance company, based in New York, had previously announced its
intention to sell the tower, the speed of the deal and the relatively
high price caught the real-estate industry off-guard.
MetLife said it would realize an after-tax gain of $90 million on
Messrs. Goldman and Carye couldn't be reached. Attempts to reach
Mr. Feil were unsuccessful. The names of the three investors were
reported Thursday on the Slatin Report, a Web newsletter.
Mr. Goldman led a group including Mr. Cayre that put up most of the
$125 million of the equity that Mr. Silverstein, a New York
developer, used to buy the 99-year office lease on the Trade Center
office portion from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The deal, valued at $3.2 billion, including the Trade Center's retail
mall, closed in July 2001, weeks before the September terror attacks
that destroyed the complex.
Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Port
Authority in December had quietly agreed to return all of the $125
million in equity that Mr. Silverstein and his low-profile group
originally invested to buy the leases. The full details of that
transaction haven't been released to the public. But the deal
effectively eliminated the Silverstein group's capital risk in the
project, while allowing the group to retain control of 10 million
square feet of office space. The Port Authority has rejected a Wall
Street Journal request to review the transaction, citing Mr.
Silverstein's ongoing lawsuit against his insurers, led by Swiss
Reinsurance Co., over how many claims may be collected as a result of