Hedge fund moving to HNA’s 245 Park

Midtown office tower site of dispute with SL Green

HNA Group’s Guoqing Chen and 245 Park Avenue (Loopnet)
HNA Group’s Guoqing Chen and 245 Park Avenue (Loopnet)

Verition Fund Management decided it needed bigger offices to accommodate a growing staff and found its future just a few steps away.

The hedge fund moved into 38,000 square feet at HNA Group’s 245 Park Avenue, Bloomberg reported — more than quadrupling its footprint. The company moved from 8,500 square feet at RXR Realty’s 230 Park Avenue. Terms of Verition’s new lease weren’t immediately clear.

Verition’s space at 245 Park opened on Monday and features perks including a full kitchen and a lunch room, in addition to high ceilings. The space has the capacity for 200 people after renovations by the previous tenant, WisdomTree Investments.

That will be to the benefit of Verition, which has hired 100 people across the world since the onset of the pandemic, nearly doubling its workforce. The hedge fund, which also has offices in London and Greenwich, Conn., has more than quintupled its assets under management since May 2019 to $5.2 billion. Nick Maounis and Josh Goldstein run the firm.

Verition’s new offices are at a site ripe with recent problems. Late last year, a Delaware judge ruled that PWN Management, an affiliate of HNA, could end SL Green’s contract as property manager of the Midtown office building after PWN alleged in a bankruptcy filing that SL Green failed to find a tenant to replace Major League Baseball when the company’s lease expired, leaving the building without a new tenant lease since November 2018.

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PWN also alleged that SL Green intentionally tried to put the building into distress, claiming the office landlord would benefit from an ability to foreclose on the property if PWN failed to make its payments. SL Green previously shifted the blame back on to HNA for “blatant neglect of this prominent office tower.”

HNA paid $2.2 billion to acquire the 44-story building in 2017, financing the acquisition with a $1.2 billion CMBS loan from JPMorgan Chase, among others. In 2018, HNA put the office tower on the market, as well as its building at 181 West Madison Street in Chicago.

In October, a Chinese judge approved a corporate restructuring allowing creditors of HNA to sell its assets, representing one of the largest corporate bankruptcy cases in China.

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[Bloomberg] — Holden Walter-Warner