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$1 billion Empire State Building IPO: why it won't be like Facebook IPO

The Empire State Building is set to make a $1 billion IPO, but investors probably won't be as excited as they were about Facebook or other tech IPOs.

By ALEX VEIGAAssociated Press / February 13, 2012

$1 Billion Empire State Building IPO: The Empire State Building (r.) towers over other buildings in the Manhattan skyline in New York February 7. The Empire State Building is planning to go public in a stock offering that could raise $1 billion.

Gary Hershorn/Reuters

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Soon investors can take after King Kong and grab a piece of theEmpire State Building.

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The company that runs the Depression-era skyscraper, the tallest buildingin New York, is planning to go public in a stock offering that could raise $1 billion, according to documents filed with regulators Monday.

That means that even if you can't afford to buy a home, you can buy a stake in perhaps the nation's most iconic office building. At least until the government sells shares in the Pentagon.

The planned IPO comes about 10 years after real estate investor Peter Malkin bought the 102-story Art Deco landmark from Donald Trump and a business partner for $57.5 million.

It's the latest chapter in a saga that dates to 1931, when the building was completed, establishing it as the city's tallest skyscraper. It regained that standing after the collapse of the World Trade Center twin towers in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Millions of tourists visiting New York ascend its heights to gape over the city from its observation deck, made famous in films such as "Sleepless in Seattle." It was 1933's "King Kong" that showed a giant ape clutching Fay Wray and fending off airplanes atop the tower.

The building's star turns in Hollywood blockbusters and TV shows and its dominant presence in the New York landscape have made it among the most beloved structures in the nation. And the opportunity to buy stock in a company that owns such a landmark doesn't come up often.

Some of the nation's marquee buildings are owned by publicly traded companies. Boston Properties owns the General Motors building in New York and the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco's financial district. But neither has the history that the Empire State Building has.

"You have a trophy property that is irreplaceable," says Hessam Nadji, managing director for research and advisory services at Marcus & Millichap, a commercial real estate services firm.

In its regulatory filing Monday, Empire State Realty Trust Inc. didn't say how many shares might be involved in the IPO or what price they might fetch. The $1 billion figure isn't final, either. It's subject to investor demand.

The company, the predecessor of which is Malkin Holdings LLC, plans to use proceeds to pay investors, repay loans and cover the expenses of the IPO and the company's formation last summer, as well as for possible future acquisitions.

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