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Report: Kushner seeks to buy out Vornado in JV office tower in NYC

Kushner Cos. is in discussions to acquire the 49.5% stake it does not already own in the 39-story office building at 666 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan, N.Y., from its joint venture partner Vornado Realty Trust, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a Kushner spokeswoman.

Office real estate investment trust Vornado disclosed in a recent filing that it does not intend to keep its stake in the financially struggling property over the long term.

A deal could be sealed in a few months, a person with knowledge of the talks told the publication. The person added that the stake acquisition would involve Kushner refinancing the debt on the property, which is roughly 30% vacant due in part to the real estate giant's plan to empty it ahead of a proposed redevelopment.

As the cash flow from the building is not sufficient to service the debt, the Kushner-Vornado venture is forced to pay millions of dollars every year out of its own pocket, a source told the Journal.

The publication added that negotiations with Vornado may still not materialize, as the office landlord may opt to dispose of its stake to a third party. The partners may also work out a deal to sell the entire building.

What Kushner would do if it succeeds in buying out Vornado remains unclear. Since the Kushner family has closed its doors to major capital sources, including sovereign governments or funds, it might face challenges in advancing as massive an overhaul of the property as it initially planned in 2017, the publication said, citing people familiar with the matter.

In 2017, Kushner planned to spend $7.5 billion to transform the building into a 1,400-foot-tall mixed-use tower with retail, hotel and condominiums. Vornado reportedly rejected the plan.

A Vornado spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on the planned stake acquisition, according to the publication.