Johnny Ro­nan eyes bid for New York’s Chrysler Build­ing

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - Ron­ald Quin­lan

HE came tan­ta­lis­ingly close to own­ing New York’s world-fa­mous Em­pire State Build­ing back in the early 1980s. Now, more than 30 years later, Johnny Ro­nan is weigh­ing up his chances of tak­ing an­other bite of the Big Ap­ple, the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent can re­veal.

This time round, the de­vel­oper’s in­ter­est has been piqued by the ar­rival on the mar­ket of the cel­e­brated art deco skyscraper, the Chrysler Build­ing.

“It’s such an iconic prop­erty and Johnny is ab­so­lutely look­ing for the de­tails from the sell­ing agent,” a source close to the busi­ness­man said fol­low­ing last Wed­nes­day’s news of the Man­hat­tan land­mark’s sale.

While Ro­nan’s com­pany, Ro­nan Group Real Es­tate (RGRE) is al­ready in­volved in the de­liv­ery of €3bn worth of of­fice projects in Dublin with its fund­ing part­ners, Colony Cap­i­tal, the ac­qui­si­tion of the Chrysler Build­ing would pro­pel the de­vel­oper into an elite co­hort of tro­phy as­set-own­ing real es­tate ty­coons.

In a rare and wide-rang­ing in­ter­view in 2017 with the UK’S com­mer­cial prop­erty bi­ble, Prop­erty Week, Ro­nan de­scribed his fail­ure to se­cure the own­er­ship of the Em­pire State Build­ing as the worst de­ci­sion he had ever made in busi­ness.

“Worst [de­ci­sion]? Not buy­ing the free­hold [lease] of the Em­pire State Build­ing in the early 1980s. We bid $500,000 less than the win­ning bid,” he said.

The sale of the Chrysler Build­ing by its cur­rent own­ers, the Abu Dhabi-based in­vest­ment fund Mubadala, and real es­tate firm, Tish­man Speyer, is be­ing han­dled by the CBRE Group’s New York of­fice. Abu Dhabi ac­quired its 90pc in­ter­est in the prop­erty through its sov­er­eign wealth fund, the Abu Dhabi In­vest­ment Coun­cil (ADIC) for $800m in 2008. The fund be­came a part of an­other of Abu Dhabi’s in­vest­ment arms, Mubadala In­vest­ment Co, fol­low­ing a merger last year.

The Chrysler was the world’s tallest build­ing when it was com­pleted in 1930. It held the ti­tle for just one year be­fore be­ing over­taken by the Em­pire State Build­ing.

Johnny Ro­nan is in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing the Chrysler Build­ing (cen­tre) in New York

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