Merrill Lynch confirmed on Monday that it is considering relocating from its headquarters in New York’s World Financial Center when its lease runs out in 2013. The world’s largest brokerage firm is mulling the move because its current offices may not be sufficient to accommodate its expanding operations, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The company downplayed the significance of a potential move as a natural part of lease negotiations. “We’re in the midst of evaluating our options given that we have an impending lease expiration in 2013,” says Merrill spokesperson Selena Morris. Previously published reports have dramatized the potential move as an exodus from New York but much of the chatter is likely a case of real estate brokers stirring the pot.
Even if the firm were to make a move, it apparently wouldn’t have its brokers lug their boxes too far. Merrill is believed to have met with Larry Silverstein, the developer who controls the building rights for most of the construction site, and is considering either Two or Three World Trade Center, according to a Bloomberg report citing two people familiar with the negotiations. The company is also looking at other locations, Bloomberg said.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is apparently not prepared to offer the firm any financial incentive to stay in New York. Speaking at a philanthropy conference in Little Rock, the mayor told a group of reporters, “I would not expect Merrill Lynch to ask for any subsidy, nor would I expect the city to give them one,” according to the New York Post. Bloomberg did say, however, that he was optimistic that Merrill would remain downtown, the Post said. Merrill Lynch is a passive minority investor in Bloomberg.
Merrill in Talks to Move to Trade Center, People Say (Bloomberg.com)
Mike: City Won't Pay for Merrill (New York Post)