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Rockefeller Center auction sought


NEW YORK -- The Japanese company that controls Rockefeller Center has decided to auction a majority stake in the bankrupt New York landmark.

In papers filed Friday in bankruptcy court, the owner asked for a 60-day extension of the period during which it has the exclusive right to present a plan of reorganization. That will give it time to either hand the property over to its creditors or seek bids for the office and retail complex.

The owner, two partnerships controlled by Mitsubishi Estate Co., has until today to present a plan to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. After that, other bidders can offer alternative reorganization plans.

"The debtors believe it is in everyone's best interests for there to be a consensual plan that allows for the vast majority of ownership of the landmarked properties to be sold to a third party," the owner said in the court filing.

The move came after Mitsubishi's representatives spent a frenzied week trying to work out a joint plan of reorganization before the deadline with the property's largest creditor, a real estate investment trust, or REIT, that holds a $1.3 billion mortgage on the site.

The owner has "been trying to effect the appropriate transfer to the REIT of the debtors' property in a manner that is not harmful to the properties or [the owner's] other assets," the representatives said.

"Considering that approximately $623 million has been spent by the current owner of these 12 landmarked properties to make them into the classic, yet state-of-the-art properties they are today, shouldn't it be their right to determine who will be the next owners of the property?"

A week ago, the creditor, Rockefeller Center Properties Inc., rejected the owner's first proposal. That plan, proposed with New York developer Jerry I. Speyer, called for the owner to buy the mortgage for $975 million and give Rockefeller Center Properties a 21 percent stake in a company that would own a new mortgage on the site. Mr. Speyer is president of Tishman Speyer Properties.

Rockefeller Center Properties rejected that plan. Up until recently, it said, the owner had all but ignored its attempt to work out a reorganization plan.

Now, Mr. Speyer has said he no longer wants to work with the owner on a plan of reorganization.

Tishman Speyer Properties said in a statement that there were "numerous and material errors in the projections and cash flow" that the owners provided it, and said its further involvement "wouldn't . . . be constructive."

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