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EL SEGUNDO, CA-Digital satellite giant DirecTV has signed a $56-million renewal and expansion lease to keep its worldwide headquarters at Kilroy Airport Center here in this LA suburb, marking the largest lease transaction in the county’s South Bay market in half a decade.

The seven-year pact includes 50,000 sf of new class A space for DirectTV, in addition to the 132,473 sf it already occupies. DirectTV, which is operated by locally based Hughes Electronics Corp., will spread itself over 10 floors in one building at 2250 E. Imperial Highway and another one-half floor in a neighboring tower at 2250 E. Imperial.

DirecTV will also have signage rights atop the 2250 tower. The complex’s owner, locally based REIT giant Kilroy Realty Corp., says those rights ensure that the DirecTV logo will be seen by the 65 million passengers who fly into the nearby Los Angeles International Airport each year and the 500,000 motorists who pass by the development each day as they drive down the Century (105) Freeway.

While the sheer size of the deal provides an important boost to the South Bay market, the transaction could have a ripple effect across Southern California’s economy. That’s because Australia-based News Corp. and EchoStar Communications Corp. of Colorado are in the middle of a $30-billion bidding war for fast-growing DirectTV, which itself is a subsidiary of Southland-based Hughes Electronics Corp.

Some observers have worried that DirectTV’s headquarters will be downsized or even relocated out-of-state, regardless of which company eventually acquires it. But the new lease deal would make either move a costly proposition for the wining bidder, and the fact that DirectTV is taking an additional 50,000 sf indicates that it plans to stay in the LA area for good.

DirecTV was represented in the lease negotiations by Grafton Tanquary of CB Richard Ellis and Nancy Hall of Hughes Electronics. They were assisted by Pat Ramsey of the law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janovsky & Walker.

Kathy M. Delgado, the REIT’s senior vice president for leasing, negotiated for Kilroy. Attorneys Anton N. Natsis and Delmar L. Nehrenberg of Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory provided Kilroy with legal help.

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