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Merrill Lynch Ends World Trade Center Talks-Report

Merrill Lynch Ends World Trade Center Talks-Report

Jul 17, 2008
By By: Reuters | Reuters

Merrill Lynch & Co has ended discussions to move its headquarters to a planned office tower at the World Trade Center site, The New York Times said on Thursday.

The securities company, whose lease in its downtown Manhattan office will expire in 2013, had considered moving its headquarters last year.

It had had discussions about the World Trade Center with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that owns the site, and Larry Silverstein, the developer who purchased the Twin Towers six weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The paper said Merrill’s decision was a major setback for the Port Authority and Silverstein, who had hoped to revive commercial interest in the 16-acre site by luring the company as an anchor tenant for one of the four office towers to be built there.

After bargaining for months over tens of millions of dollars in concessions and tax breaks for a 71-story tower, Merrill said that it and its negotiation partners were “too far apart to continue the process,” according to the Times.

With a dearth of private tenants at the site, the pains of the weak economy and lenders’ reluctance to finance speculative office space, some experts say that Silverstein, who is required to build three of the four towers, may find it hard to raise money for construction, the paper said.

Last month, the Port Authority said it could not rely on any of its deadlines and cost estimates for the $14 billion World Trade Center rebuilding plan because they were all unrealistic.

Separately, Merrill has agreed to sell its 20 percent stake in Bloomberg LP back to the news and financial data company for about $4.5 billion, according to a Reuters source familiar with the situation. Selling the stake could help Merrill Chief Executive John Thain raise capital to make up for write-downs related in part to subprime mortgages. (Reporting by Franklin Paul; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)


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