Icon of NYC Makes Debut With Empire State IPO


Throngs of tourists ascend the Empire State Building daily to gape out over New York.

The owner of the building, Empire State Realty Trust Inc., made its market debut Wednesday, more than a year-and-a-half after announcing its intent to go public. The company first had to grapple with lawsuits brought by investors taking issue with the structure of the offering.

After a day of heavy trading, the stock ended up 10 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $13.10.

Empire State Realty Trust owns the Depression-era landmark and 11 other office properties in New York and Connecticut. It raised about $754 million after expenses. The company’s plans for the money include paying off debt and paying some shareholders, including the estate of hotel magnate Leona Helmsley.

The Empire State Building’s dominant presence in American culture and the New York landscape have made it among the most beloved structures in the U.S. The opportunity to buy stock in a company that owns such a landmark doesn’t come up often.

But it was a long road to an IPO.

The building, which was New York City’s tallest skyscraper when it was completed in 1931, was bought by real estate investor Peter Malkin from Donald Trump and a business partner for $57.5 million in 2002.

Malkin Holdings, which is run by Peter Malkin and his son Anthony, spearheaded a plan to take Empire State Realty public.

But a small group of stakeholders opposed the plan and said they were misled about the proposal, adding that the move would put an unfair tax burden on them. In May, a New York judge backed a $55 million settlement between the Malkins and some of the disgruntled shareholders, clearing the way for the IPO.

The company sold about 71.5 million shares for $13 each, the low end of its prior estimate of $13 to $15 per share. It listed on the New York Stock Exchange, under the ticker symbol “ESRT.”

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