Cravath Law Firm Is Shopping for Potential New Headquarters

(Bloomberg) -- The law firm Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP is exploring alternatives to its current headquarters at midtown Manhattan’s Worldwide Plaza, people with knowledge of its plans said.

The firm is the second-largest tenant at the 2.1 million-square-foot (195,100-square-meter) office tower on Eighth Avenue at West 50th Street, where its lease expires in 2024. Cravath could remain in building, where it has about 600,000 square feet, on a new or extended lease and may end up renewing its agreement there early, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

Worldwide Plaza is the only remaining asset of New York REIT Inc. that isn’t under contract to be sold. The real estate investment trust, which is in the process of liquidating, sold a stake in the tower to a joint venture of SL Green Realty Corp. and Scott Rechler’s RXR Realty, keeping a 50.1 percent share for itself after bids for an outright purchase were disappointing. New York REIT executives have said they ultimately want to sell their interest in the property.

Lewis Miller, a vice chairman at brokerage CBRE Group Inc. who is leading the team working with Cravath, and representatives for Cravath, SL Green and New York REIT declined to comment. Representatives for RXR didn’t return calls and emails seeking comment.

The law firm, which is more than two centuries old, is looking for more modern space, in keeping with other firms that have reduced their footprints and made their offices more open for collaboration, according to one of the people. The firm’s clients include Walt Disney Co. in its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox Inc.’s entertainment assets, and Time Warner Inc. in its defense against U.S. antitrust actions to block its $85.4 billion merger with AT&T Inc.

Cravath signed its current lease in 2007, when Worldwide Plaza was owned by Macklowe Properties, agreeing to pay about $900 million over 15 years, or between $90 and $100 a square foot. It was one of the most expensive office leases in the city at the time. Other tenants in the 50-story building include Nomura Holdings Inc., which is its largest occupant, and WNET, New York’s public television station.

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