May 22, 2008 / 6:15 AM / 10 years ago

Merrill restarts talks to move to WTC site: WSJ

(Reuters) - Merrill Lynch & Co has restarted talks to move its headquarters to a planned skyscraper at the World Trade Center site, the Wall Street Journal said on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The securities firm, whose lease in its downtown Manhattan office will expire in 2013, had considered moving its headquarters last year, and has had discussions about the World Trade Center, the newspaper said.

Senior executives at Merrill have discussed the site possibility and have given the green light to its corporate real-estate team to explore a move, the newspaper said.

The board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that owns the site, is expected to discuss the matter Thursday and could vote to authorize a pause in the construction process to allow Merrill’s design needs to be accommodated, the newspaper said.

Merrill is said to be considering one of three buildings being developed by Larry Silverstein, the developer who purchased the Twin Towers six weeks before the September 11 attacks. He also holds rights to several nearby sites, while the Port Authority also holds rights to the planned Freedom Tower.

Merrill, Silverstein and the Port Authority could not be immediately reached for comment.

In June, JPMorgan Chase & Co agreed to build a 1.3 million square foot skyscraper, with at least six trading floors, near Ground Zero, and relocate its investment banking headquarters from midtown Manhattan.

JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, which is building its headquarters in Battery Park City, received tax breaks.

Merrill’s proposed building, known as Tower 3, would have 71 stories and include 2.5 million square feet of office space, the newspaper said.

Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; editing by Sue Thomas

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