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Grapevine: Put down that carving knife, Hackensack Hoyas, real takeover talk

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(Rutgers-Camden Law School)
(Rutgers-Camden Law School)

Put down that carving knife

Word was swirling last week that a compromise was in the works on the contentious merger of Rutgers and Rowan universities. One source said discussions involved keeping the Camden law school as part of Rutgers, even if everything else went to Rowan. Makes sense, right? Loss of the law school has raised the most clamor in a din of protest, and there are all those alums — now lawyers and judges — running around the state.

"Absolutely false," said a better source, adding there is "no chance, no way" that Rutgers assets get carved up. Rutgers people had been "misinformed," and thought they could potentially get what they wanted — a medical school and cancer institute in New Brunswick — without having to give up certain assets in Camden, the source said. But Chris Christie cleared that up recently when he reiterated that the merger was an unbreakable package deal.

"They (Rutgers) are now looking at ways to facilitate something," said the source. "The governor woke them up by saying it's an all-or-nothing proposition."

The source did say there are different ways to accomplish what the governor has proposed for the merger, but the source didn't offer any hints.

Hackensack Hoyas
Grapevine has learned that Hackensack University Medical Center is in negotiations to expand its academic offerings.

Hackensack is engaged in preliminary negotiations with Georgetown University to build a medical school annex on the Hackensack campus, according to a source. No other details of the possible partnership were available.

President and CEO Robert Garrett told NJBIZ in February that he wanted to make the school's teaching programs more robust as a way for the system to differentiate itself from other Bergen County providers.

But where? Part of the system's rationale for reopening Pascack Valley was to divert some cases from the busy Hackensack location, because there is nowhere else for the hospital to build. The hospital would provide no comment on the negotiations or a possible location.

Real takeover talk
The BGC Partners Inc. takeover of Grubb & Ellis Co. seems to be a done deal after getting the green light last week from a federal bankruptcy judge in New York.

So, what's next for the brokerage world?

Rumors are circulating that Exor, the Italian investment giant that owns the majority of Cushman & Wakefield, has been exploring a sale of the global real estate services firm, industry sources said. Cushman & Wakefield has offices in East Rutherford, Edison and Morristown.

Two sources at different real estate companies said they have heard the talk for weeks. But when asked about the rumor in early March and last week, a Cushman & Wakefield spokesman in the firm's New York office said it was "absolutely not true." Another industry source, meanwhile, said more movement among brokerage firms in the coming months is likely, starting with the "fallout" from BGC's acquisition of Grubb & Ellis. New York-based BGC, which in October acquired Newmark Knight Frank, said last week it expects to close on the Grubb acquisition shortly as it marches toward "a game-changing platform" in commercial real estate.

Primary scare for Democrats
And you thought the Republican presidential primary was a circus. Now comes the 2014 Democratic primary race for U.S. Senate, which apparently kicked off last week. Frank Lautenberg, who's up for re-election, and Steve Sweeney traded barbs about the Rutgers-Rowan merger, throwing around words like "bizarre," "vengeful" and "political stunt." Nearly two dozen elected officials, mostly Democrats, sent a release blasting Lautenberg that came from "Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney," but from a NewJersey1st.com e-mail address, not Sweeney's legislative address.

Yeah, these guys are from the same party — but this is Jersey, so there is mutual hate between the Lautenberg folks and the Sweeney/George Norcross troops. And don't mention Bob Torricelli, as "the Torch" adds fire to the fuel, so to speak.

The biggest question: will Lautenberg run again? At 88, he is the oldest senator, and some believe he will step aside to give another Dem a chance. But others say Lautenberg will definitely run again, as he quickly regretted giving up his seat for Jon Corzine in 2000. One person predicted a "bitter, severe primary" if Lautenberg runs again. Another person noted the senator has never had to play defense.

It looks like the offense already started.

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Sharon Waters at swaters@njbiz.com.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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