CPPIB Pockets $1B on Sale of NYC Office Stake

The Toronto-based pension fund sold its share of the 50-story skyscraper to a global institutional investor in a deal valuing the asset at $2.3 billion.
1221 Avenue of the Americas (courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield)

1221 Avenue of the Americas (courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield)

New York—Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has let go of its 45 percent ownership stake in 1221 Avenue of the Americas, a 2.6 million-square-foot office tower at Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan. The Toronto-based pension fund sold its share of the 50-story skyscraper to a global institutional investor for $1 billion in a deal valuing the asset at a whopping $2.3 billion.

Developed in 1972 to house the headquarters of McGraw-Hill, the Harrison, Abromovitz & Harris-designe building features 20,000 square feet of ground-level retail space, and is home to a diverse group of tenants ranging from Sirius XM Radio to international law firm White & Case LLP, which inked a lease for 440,000 square feet at the Class A+ property in 2014. Commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield has been serving as the exclusive leasing agent at 1221 AoA since 2013. Rockefeller Group, which owns the remaining 55 percent share of the building, will continue in its role as property manager.

CPPIB’s disposition of its minority interest in 1221 AoA comes six years after the professional investment management organization purchased a piece of the office tower from SL Green for $576 million. It was a transaction that, along with the simultaneous acquisition of a stake in 600 Lexington Ave., marked CPPIB’s entrée into Manhattan’s Class A office market. CPPIB’s decision to sell 1221 AoA, was spurred by one factor: timing.

“Valuations in the Manhattan office market have increased significantly since our acquisition of 1221, and we feel this is an opportune time to monetize our position in the property,” Hilary Spann, managing director and head of U.S. Real Estate Investments with CPPIB, said in a prepared statement. “Manhattan remains a target market for us, and we continue to pursue new investment opportunities here and in other key U.S. real estate markets.”

In Manhattan, CPPIB co-owns One Park Avenue with Vornado Realty Trust, where the pension fund increased its interest to 45 percent in a $108 million deal in 2014. U.S. markets represent roughly 36 percent of CPPIB’s global real estate investment portfolio. Most recently, the fund purchased Hill7, a 285,700-square-foot office tower in Seattle, for $180 million in a joint venture transaction.