It has finally happened. Though not unexpected, in fact, considered a distinct possibility and reported as such, the passing of an American landmark to Arab hands may mark another distinct chapter in globalisation, as well as the growing power of oil money.
It was announced yesterday that the majority ownership of New York City's iconic Chrysler Building has been sold to the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, marking the second time in less than two months that a Middle Eastern fund took a major stake in a high-profile Manhattan office building. (See: Abu Dhabi fund looking to buy New York's iconic Chrysler Building for $800 million)
The 75 per cent Chrysler stake follows on the heels of another purchase by a United Arab Emirate buyer. Last month, Dubai-based Meraas Capital LLC, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Boston Properties Inc bought the General Motors building.
According to previous owner Prudential's spokeswoman Theresa Miller, the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, closed the sale with Prudential Financial Inc. on Tuesday.
Miller wouldn't disclose the sale price, which many published reports placed at $800 million. Prudential held its stake in the building on behalf of a fund of primarily German investors that had closed in the past couple of years, she said.
Tishman Speyer, which manages and controls the building, held the other 25 percent stake. A Tishman Speyer Properties spokesperson would not comment on whether they, too, had sold part or all of their interest in the building, located on 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue.
The 1,046-foot Chrysler Building briefly became the world's tallest tower when it opened in 1930, until the Empire State Building topped it by over 300 feet when it was completed a year later.
New York City architect William Van Alen designed the brick office tower with its iconic, crescent-shaped spire for the automaker Chrysler Corp., decorating lower setbacks with sculptures modeled after Chrysler radiator caps and wheels. It is the city's third-tallest skyscraper.
Prudential, based in Newark, New Jersey, took on ownership of the tower when it acquired Atlanta-based TMW Real Estate Group in 2002. The company had bought its stake in the tower for about $300 million a year earlier.