In my discussions with the Rockefeller group at the time of the sale, we configured a relationship that would enable the construction division to operate mostly on its own, as we had been, and without managerial interference. Why tinker with a good thing? Sometimes the smartest action you can take is to leave well enough alone; as financier Bert Lance was then telling his friend, President Jimmy Carter, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
After I had presented Bob Tishman with the $7.5 million offer from the Rockefeller Center Corporation, the Tishman Corporation board members voted to accept it. (Of course I abstained from the vote.) Tishman Realty & Construction Co., Inc., became a subsidiary of the Rockefeller Center Corporation even before the Tishman corporation was delisted as a public company and dissolved. That happened after the majority of the corporation’s assets—the seventeen office buildings—were sold to Equitable; thus the proceeds from that sale became part of the distribution to the stockholders.
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The payout to Tishman shareholders from the proceeds of our various sales was far greater than they would have obtained by simply selling their shares of the public company on the stock market. However, due to the long-ago sale of half of my father’s stock in the company, my immediate family received half the share of the proceeds from the dissolution of the old public company that was received by the children and grandchildren of my uncles. This smaller payout was an unpleasant reminder of times past, but I had no way of rectifying the situation and did not want to dwell on it, preferring to move forward.
The public Tishman Company ceased to exist, and its liabilities and obligations were completely gone—except for the name Tishman Realty & Construction, and its logos and its history, which were passed on to my group. Under our new arrangement, very little changed for the employees of the former Tishman-owned construction division. We continued to occupy the same offices, to have the original Tishman name on the door, and to continue to provide Construction Management services as we had done in the past. Only the ownership structure was new.
Three new entities had been set up. Alan Tishman’s leasing and office management company had plenty to do from the get-go, continuing to administer the former Tishman properties now owned by Equitable. Robert Tishman and his son-in-law Jerry Speyer established Tishman Speyer Properties. For several years, they occupied offices alongside of my construction division in 666, paying us their pro rata share of the rent, until they constructed a building just down the block on 53rd (which we built for them) and moved to their own headquarters. Bob and Jerry continued the family associations with the Crowns and with the Equitable, who gave them a jump-start by investing heavily in the newly formed Tishman Speyer real estate company.
Our new entities and we three cousins got along reasonably well, but there were some sticking points between the construction entity that I headed and Tishman Speyer. Now a part of the Rockefeller Center Corporation, we were engaged by Tishman Speyer to erect their first two projects, and on site our construction people, as they had always done, wore Tishman Construction hard-hats, and our signs on the construction site fence and sidewalk bridges appeared to announce that this project was a Tishman Construction project. This signage made Bob, and particularly Jerry, quite uncomfortable, as they were at pains to establish the independent identity of their new firm.