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NEW YORK-Cushman & Wakefield is off to a good start marketing one of the largest office portfolios currently on the sale block. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. has retained C&W to sell 14 class A office towers totaling 10 million sf–either singly or in groups, but not as one transaction–by the end of the year, a top Cushman & Wakefield executive tells GlobeSt.com. MetLife hopes to get $2 billion for the properties.

So far, business has been brisk. Cushman & Wakefield last week received more than 250 bids for buildings in New York City; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Meadowlands, NJ; Irvine, CA; Dallas and Houston. “Somebody told me we might receive over 200 offers, and I thought that sounded high,” says Peter Savoie, executive managing director of Cushman & Wakefield’s financial services group. “But when you think about it, if you get 12 or 15 offers for each building, you’re there. Some of these buildings are getting 20 or 25 offers. Others are getting eight to 10.”

While there has been strong interest in all of the properties, Savoie says interest in New York City, Boston, southern California and Chicago are exceptionally high.

“These are the markets where institutional investors are just clamoring for class-A properties,” Savoie tells GlobeSt.com “Denver also has pretty strong interest,” where MetLife owns the 25-story, Bank One Buildings at 1125 17th St.

Some brokers speculate MetLife might be re-balancing its portfolio. Because of the decline in the equity markets, some institutional real estate owners may have too high of a percentage of their portfolios in real estate, the reasoning goes.

Not the case, Savoie, who works from C&W’s Denver office, tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s just a good time to sell,” Savoie tells GlobeSt.com. “These class A buildings are red hot. The interesting thing is that when people hear $2 billion, they think it is huge. But they represent only about 10% of MetLife’s entire real estate portfolio, so it’s a rather modest part of their portfolio. They’ve owned all of these buildings for at least 10 years. They are seasoned buildings that MetLife has upgraded over the years.”

He says about half the buildings are in CBDs with the other 50% in top-tier suburban locations.

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