The Real Deal New York

Cash money: Google’s $2.4B megadeal is debt-free: sources

The 75 Ninth Ave. acquisition closed Tuesday
By Mark Maurer | Twitter_logo_blue copy March 20, 2018 04:30PM

The Chelsea Market and Sundar Pichai (Credit: Getty Images)

Sitting atop a mountain of cash, Google can see its new home.

The tech giant’s $2.4 billion purchase of the Chelsea Market building, which closed Tuesday, was an all-cash transaction, sources told The Real Deal.

The company, which has a market cap of $800 billion, did not opt to assume existing debt from a group led by German lender Landesbank, which had provided financing to the 1.2 million-square-foot office-and-retail property’s seller Jamestown, sources said.

The move was especially remarkable given the deal for 75 Ninth Avenue is the largest investment-sales trade of the year so far, as well as the second-priciest sale of a building in New York history. Even last year’s top deal, HNA Group’s $2.21 billion purchase of 245 Park Avenue, included a $1.75 billion loan from a JPMorgan Chase-led consortium. (That deal had 79.2 percent leverage.)

The deal is Google’s second major New York purchase after 111 Eighth Avenue, which it bought for $1.77 billion in 2010. To close that deal, Google secured a $467.9 million acquisition loan from Bank of America, equating to 26.4 percent leverage.

The country’s largest tech firms notoriously hoard billions in cash. A Moody’s report last year showed Google stashed away $86.3 billion overseas, where it isn’t subject to domestic taxes.

Jamestown president Michael Phillips, who declined to comment on the loan, said talks with Google about expanding its roughly 400,000-square-foot leasing foothold in the building evolved into a serious discussion about an acquisition late last year. (Google is expected to take additional space after Major League Baseball and Scripps Networks vacate over the next few years.) Aside from the occasional unsolicited offer, Jamestown did not talk with anyone else about selling the building, Phillips said.

“I have mixed emotions about the sale,” Phillips said. “We love Chelsea. At the high point, we owned several buildings in the neighborhood, but now it’s down to just the Milk Building.”

As part of the deal, Jamestown is keeping the branding rights and intellectual property of the Chelsea name. TRD first reported in February that the deal was in contract.