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Kushner Has 'Handshake' Deal To Buy Vornado Out Of 666 Fifth Ave.

666 Fifth Ave
666 Fifth Ave. in New York

Kushner Cos. has reached a deal to take full control of the office portion of its signature property acquisition, 666 Fifth Ave., according to its partner in the building.

Vornado Chairman and CEO Steven Roth wrote in his annual letter to shareholders "I believe we now have a handshake to sell our interest" in the building to Kushner. The letter, released to the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday, also laid out that Roth expects Kushner to cover the company's remaining debt on the property.

"While not the outcome we expected going in, it’s now the appropriate outcome for us and for our partner," Roth said in the letter, first reported by Bloomberg. "This situation continues to be fluid — there can be no assurance that a final agreement will be reached or that a transaction will close."

Vornado would continue to own the valuable retail space on the building's ground floor, Roth wrote. The sale of the office portion would entail a return on Vornado's initial investment — $80M in 2011 and the assumption of half the $1.2B debt — plus a "mezzanine-type return," Roth wrote. 

Last year, Kushner was in talks to redevelop the property into a slender, $7.5B mixed-use supertall, but those plans were scuttled when Vornado expressed no interest and the lender the firm had lined up, Anbang Insurance Corp., came under increased scrutiny in its home country of China. 

Jared Kushner, now a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, paid $1.8B to buy 666 Fifth Ave., a 50-year-old office building, in 2007, fueled almost entirely by debt. After the Great Recession, Vornado was brought in as an equity partner to prevent Kushner from entering foreclosure.

The $1.2B debt on the building is due in early 2019, and there is no indication how Kushner plans to pay off that loan, or how the company is planning to finance its acquisition of Vornado's stake. The building is less than 70% full, and brought in $20M in net operating income for Vornado in 2017, according to the letter, a $5M dip from the previous year. The income from the building is not enough to cover payments on the debt coming due.