BofA Agrees to Sell 12-Building New Jersey Office Campus

Bank of America Corp. agreed to sell a 12-building office campus in central New Jersey that it inherited from Merrill Lynch & Co., part of the company’s efforts to cut costs.

The property in Hopewell Township, serving about 6,500 employees, went under contract last month and the transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the year, Jennifer Darwin, a spokeswoman for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank, said today in a telephone interview. She declined to name the buyer or the price.

Real Estate Alert, a trade newsletter, reported today that New York-based Fortress Investment Group LLC agreed to buy the complex for $375 million to $400 million. Gordon Runte, a spokesman for Fortress, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

The deal may become the biggest office sale on record in New Jersey, surpassing the $377.5 million paid last year for the Newport Tower in Jersey City, according to data from Real Capital Analytics Inc., a New York-based real estate research firm. Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. lender, said in February that it planned to sell all its real estate except its headquarters tower in Charlotte and One Bryant Park, its New York base, which it co-owns. That strategy remains, Darwin said.

Not Core

“Corporate real estate ownership is not really a core business for Bank of America,” she said. “This deal is in line with our intent to create efficiency and manage our space more effectively.”

The company intends to sign a long-term agreement with the new owners to lease back space it uses at the 1.8 million-square-foot (167,000-square-meter) campus, which primarily serves its Bank of America Merrill Lynch unit, she said. The company bought Merrill Lynch in 2009.

Real Estate Alert said the company would have the option to vacate 20 percent of the space after three years, and after eight years, it could leave another 20 percent. Darwin declined to discuss terms of the lease.

Nicholas Derasmo, a spokesman for Bank of America’s broker, New York-based Cushman & Wakefield Inc., referred questions to the bank.

Properties the bank has sold this year include the Hearst Tower, Charlotte’s fourth-tallest building; and 100 Federal St. in Boston. It partially leased back space in both buildings. The company is seeking buyers for the Wake Forest University Charlotte Center in downtown Charlotte, and 540 West Madison St. in Chicago, Darwin said.

(Corrects spokeswoman’s name throughout.)
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