Tabak brothers close in on buying stake in $460M Ring siblings’ portfolio

TRD New York /
May.May 04, 2012 03:00 PM

New York real estate investment firms Princeton Holdings and the Bluestone Group are inching closer to their goal of buying an interest in the 14-building Manhattan Ring portfolio that has been valued at more than $460 million. Princeton, headed by Joseph Tabak, and Bluestone, led by his brother Eli Tabak, filed documents yesterday in New York State Supreme Court that back up their claim to buy a controlling stake in Michael Ring’s 50 percent interest in the portfolio of properties in Midtown South and Midtown, that he and his brother Frank Ring own. Frank operates F.M. Ring Associates, which manages the portfolio of office buildings concentrated in the Chelsea and Gramercy neighborhoods.

The new documents include the first public release of the arbitration award issued April 19 that sided with Princeton and Bluestone in their legal effort to force Michael to abide by agreements signed in February and March 2011 to sell a controlling 56.25 percent interest in his share of the portfolio.

Last summer, Michael had sought to back out of the agreement to sell his interest for $112.5 million, but the award last month concluded the 2011 agreements to form the joint venture were binding.

Michael and Frank own 14 properties under a tenant in common structure – which allows each party to sell its share independently. They each own 50 percent of 13 of those properties, and in the other, 251 Park Avenue South, each owns 25 percent of the building. The other 50 percent of that building is owned by Gary Barnett’s Extell Development.

The portfolio is generally considered underperforming by brokers even as it is concentrated in Midtown South which is considered the tightest office market in the country. Other buildings include the 223,500-square-foot 212 Fifth Avenue, that is more than 36 percent vacant; and 331 Park Avenue South, a 45,000-square-foot office building that is 44 percent vacant, data from CoStar Group shows.

The arbitration further directs Michael to enter negotiations to create a limited liability company with Princeton, Bluestone and another company called DiRing LLC, that will buy out Michael’s interest for $112.5 million. In the complex deal, he will invest $55 million as preferred equity and Princeton and Bluestone will contribute approximately $65 million in the new company.

The arbitration needed to be filed in court because the arbitrator has no authority to force the parties to comply with the award, whereas a judge can enforce it, Janice Mac Avoy, a partner at law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, said. She is representing Princeton and Bluestone.

The next step in the process is the parties need to negotiate the exact structure of the limited liability company, she said. She declined to comment further on the case.

Jonathan Adelsberg, a partner at law firm Herrick Feinstein which is representing Michael Ring, declined to comment because the case remains in litigation. Calls to the Tabaks and Frank Ring were not immediately returned. A spokesperson for Michael Ring declined to comment.

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