AmEx Bank moving from WFC to Newark

American Express Bank Ltd., following its February sale to London-based Standard Chartered Bank for $823 million, is close to finalizing a deal to relocate from the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan to downtown Newark, according to sources familiar with the talks.

American Express Bank, which was sold by its parent company American Express, would exit 200 Vesey Street for Two Gateway Center, an 832,000 square-foot Class A office building located across the street from Newark Penn Station. The firm could take about 50,000 square feet there, sources said.

American Express Bank, an international bank for financial institutions and wealthy individuals, has about 300 employees working on the 22nd and 23rd floors at the World Financial Center, the global headquarters for American Express Co.

Standard Chartered is subleasing the space from American Express Co. until it decides where to move the offices. After announcing the sale in September 2007, American Express began a search for possible sub-tenants for the space, which is estimated to be 60,000 square feet.

“We need to make the decision to grow into that space or sublease it,” an American Express spokesperson said.

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American Express Bank officials, who asked not to be identified, confirmed that Newark and Utica, N.Y., were the finalists following a lengthy search. Standard Chartered spokeswoman Elaine Chin said the bank is evaluating its options for an additional location.

If completed, the deal would a big win for Newark, which has courted new corporate tenants from New York City and other expensive commercial centers.

CB Richard Ellis was named the exclusive leasing agent for Two Gateway Center in June 2007. Tenants at Two Gateway Center include Prudential Insurance, Merrill Lynch and the law firm of McCarter & English.

Dudley Ryan, senior vice president at CB Richard Ellis, declined comment. Sources familiar with the negotiations said an agreement was imminent.

Asking rates are $35 per square foot, almost half the $53 rate for office space in Lower Manhattan, according to fourth quarter figures from the Downtown Alliance. 

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