The Macklowe Deals: What We Know (and Don’t Know)

Harry Macklowe, the troubled real estate mogul desperately trying to extricate himself from a morass of debt obligations by selling off stakes in his GM Building, the Equity Office portfolio he bought from Blackstone last year, and other Manhattan properties, is back in the news.

The New York Post ran big today with the headline, “Macklowe finds a way out,” with the Wall Street Journal running a very similar story, “Goldman, Boston Properties, Others in Talks to Buy Macklowe’s GM Building.”

It was the first spot of new news on Macklowe in months, or so it seemed. But how has it changed what we know, and what we don’t know, about the elusive Mr. Macklowe?

Here’s a breakdown of what we’ve known for a while. After that, we give you a run-down of the "news" in the Post and Wall Street Journal‘s coverage.

What we’ve known:

  • Mort Zuckerman’s Boston Properties has an offer on the table.
  • The GM Building, which Mr. Macklowe bought for $1.4 billion in 2003, is expected to sell for less than $3 billion.
  • All of Mr. Macklowe’s properties are in play, including the seven Equity Office ones that he bought last year from Blackstone, using his GM Building as leverage, and contributing just $50 million of his own money.
  • In an ideal world, Mr. Macklowe would retain some stake in the GM Building, which, according to legend, he’s coveted ever since he was a young commercial broker.
  • Fortress Investment Group, from which Mr. Macklowe borrowed about $1 billion, has set a deadline in June for repayment. In other words, Mr. Macklowe is really under the gun.

Here’s what the New York Post and Wall Street Journal added today to the mix:

  • A consortium of buyers that includes Mr. Zuckerman, Goldman Sachs, the Kuwaiti Investment Authority and a Qatari sovereign wealth fund, is working on a deal to buy the GM Building and four other buildings from Mr. Macklowe’s portfolio.
  • A source close to Mr. Macklowe confirmed that the principals in the deal are right, but disputed the Post’s assertion that the buildings in play, aside from the GM Building, include Two Grand Central Tower at East 44th Street, 510 Madison Avenue, 540 Madison Avenue and 125 East 55th Street.
  • That source also disputed the Post’s assertion that a big announcement on the deal would be forthcoming today.
  • Perhaps most intriguing is that another source speculated that all of this chatter was merely a "smokescreen" to divert attention from what Mr. Macklowe is really up to.
The Macklowe Deals: What We Know (and Don’t Know)