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High Point MMPI properties sold for $139.5 million

Investor behind the buyer, High Point Acquisition Co., not named

A buyer identified as High Point Acquisition Co. has closed on a $139.5 million deal to acquire the Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. showroom properties, the new owner said in a brief press statement Thursday.

A transition team also was named, led by Randy Eller, chief transition officer, and Steve Johnson, vice president of administration/assistant general manager.

They will be supported by three people who had been MMPI High Point executives, Brian Bunch, vice president of leasing/assistant general manager; Karen Olson, vice president of marketing; and Paul Sperano, director of operations.

High Point Acquisition Co. said it had acquired the Market Square complex, Hamilton Market, 300 S. Main St., Furniture Plaza, Plaza Suites and the National Furniture Mart, which together include 2.1 million square feet of showroom space.

"This transaction is backed by a well-capitalized investor who believes in the growth trajectory of this industry and the ongoing success and vitality of the High Point Market," the press release said. It did not identify the investor.

Two separate deals involving other High Point properties are still up in the air. Bassett Furniture, which owns a significant stake in the International Home Furnishings Center, reported earlier this year that it had a pending agreement to sell the IHFC for $275 million to unnamed investors. The agreement indicated that investment funds The Related Cos. and Bain Capital may be involved.

A separate possible deal to sell Showplace and related properties, which are in receivership, also is believed to be in the works. But as of Thursday morning, no court papers had been filed indicating a sale agreement had been reached.

MMPI parent company Vornado Realty Trust, meanwhile, said Thursday it would realize an $82 million net gain on the disposition of the High Point assets, with the elimination of the assets and liabilities from its balance sheet. That apparently indicates it owed more on the properties than what it had booked as their asset value.

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