Empire State Building REIT nears IPO date

Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:34pm EDT
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By Ilaina Jonas

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After a nearly two-year journey, the price for the public to own a piece of New York's Empire State Building is close at hand.

Empire State Realty Trust Inc, the real estate investment trust with the iconic skyscraper as its centerpiece, plans to launch an initial public offering of 71.5 million shares at $13 to $15 apiece, according to a regulatory filing on Thursday.

The shares are expected to price on October 1, a source familiar with the matter said. At the high end of the anticipated pricing range, the IPO could generate $1.07 billion, making it one of the top three biggest REIT debuts.

The range is higher than earlier estimates of $10 a share, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

"I'm very satisfied," said Barrett Browd, 73, an investor whose parents bought 1.5 ownership units in the building more than a half century ago. "I don't want to wait six months or a year to squeeze anything more out of this."

The bankers involved in bringing the REIT to market, led by Bank of America Corp (BAC.N: Quote) and Goldman Sachs & Co (GS.N: Quote), are launching a road show which will attempt to garner interest from large funds to buy the shares. The final price will be determined by the interest from the road show.

The underwriters also would be granted an option to purchase 10.725 million shares more if demand rises, according to a filing with the SEC. The shares are expected to trade under the symbol "ESRT," the latest filing said.

The landmark building in Manhattan opened in 1931 during the Great Depression. At 102 stories, it stood as the world's tallest building until its lost its title in 1972 to the World Trade Center's North Tower.   Continued...

The moon rises at sunset behind New York's Empire State building as a woman runs along a promenade in Hoboken, New Jersey, September 17, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn