UPDATE 2-Time Warner hires Eastdil to market its NY headquarters

Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:13pm EDT

By Ilaina Jonas

NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - Time Warner Inc said on Thursday that it has hired Eastdil Secured LLC's Doug Harmon to market its headquarters to determine how much the building would fetch should the company decide to sell it.

The media conglomerate's 1.1 million square-foot (102,193 square meters) headquarters is part of the larger Time Warner Center. Within the larger center, which was completed in 2004 and includes a Mandarin Oriental hotel, a shopping mall, underground parking and condominiums, Time Warner owns only its headquarters.

But Time Warner owns or rents 15 locations within the New York metropolitan area and is looking to shrink its footprint and consolidate.

"This is one of the last pieces of the data to help us figure out our final decision," Keith Cocozza, a Time Warner spokesman, said.

The company is weighing various options, including keeping the building and consolidating within it, or selling the tower and leasing it back. It also could sell the building and consolidate within a couple of buildings, Cocozza said.

Time Warner has been scouting possible locations in the Hudson Yards project being built on Manhattan's far west side. It also could consolidate at the Time Life Building in midtown and take additional space downtown at the World Trade Center or the nearby World Financial Center, now called Brookfield Place.

The company expects to make a decision and finalize a plan before the end of the third quarter, Cocozza said.

Harmon recently led the Eastdil team in the $1.1 billion sale of Sony Corp's U.S. headquarters in Manhattan to the Chetrit Group, a U.S. real estate developer. It was highest price paid for a single U.S. office building since Google Inc bought its New York site for $1.8 billion two years ago, a deal that Harmon also brokered.

Both Harmon and Martha Wallau, Eastdil's spokeswoman, could not be reached for an immediate comment.

The Sony Building attracted bidders from companies, individuals and sovereign wealth funds from around the world, including Asia and Middle East.

International buyers remain on the prowl. A group of Chinese investors including Zhang Xin, chief executive of commercial real estate developer Soho China Ltd, is nearing a deal to buy a 40 percent stake in the General Motors building in Manhattan. The deal would value the GM Building at $3.4 billion.

A delegation from Qatar recently was in the United States scouting for properties, two sources said.

Foreign buyers are attracted to New York office buildings because of the stability of their investment.

Time Warner owns the Warner Brothers movie studio, cable news channel CNN, premium TV service HBO and Turner Broadcasting; it plans to spin off Time Inc.

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