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Blackstone Buys Part of Times Square Building

Buyout shop the Blackstone Group has paid $160 million to buy the top floors of the Times Square Building from Africa Israel USA, a unit of Africa Israel Investments, Reuters reported. The deal is for 32,000-square-meters in the building that was once home to the New York Times.

(Reuters) – Africa Israel USA said on Friday it was selling the top floors of the Times Square Building to Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) for $160 million, calling it one of Manhattan’s biggest real estate deals this year. Africa Israel USA, a unit of Africa Israel Investments (AFIL01.TA), said in a statement the deal was for 32,000 square meters (350,000 square feet) in the building that was once the home of the New York Times.

The remaining 22,000 square meters (240,000 square feet), rented as retail and exhibition space, will remain under Africa Israel USA’s ownership, the statement said.

Africa Israel, which is owned by Israeli tycoon Lev Leviev and was hard hit by a drop in real estate prices in the United States, Russia and eastern Europe, bought the building for $525 million in 2007 from real estate investment firm Tishman Speyer.

Tamir Kazaz, acting CEO of Africa Israel USA, said the sale is an “important milestone” in the company’s debt restructuring process and repositioning of the building. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by David Holmes)