CHICAGO (Reuters) - CME Group Inc said on Wednesday it had hired firms to explore the sale of the New York Mercantile Exchange building, home to its energy trading floor.
CME, the largest U.S. futures exchange operator, will continue to operate the trading floor regardless of whether the 16-story building is sold, the company said in a statement.
If it is sold, CME may lease back a portion of the building, including the trading floor, it said. CME also may relocate NYMEX to another building in lower Manhattan.
The potential sale reflects the shift to electronic trading that has made it less attractive for exchange operators to own real estate for traditional open-outcry pits.
CME last year sold most of its historic Chicago Board of Trade building to a consortium of real estate companies for $151.5 million and leased back space that is uses, including trading pits for agricultural products.
"The sale of the NYMEX building will help us continue to reinvest in our core derivatives business, just as we did following the sale and lease-back of office space in the CBOT building," said Jamie Parisi, CME's chief financial officer.
CME in March said it planned to sell the building that houses its grain exchange in Kansas City and might also sell the NYMEX building.
The exchange operator hired Holly Duran Real Estate Partners and Newmark Grubb Knight Frank to market the NYMEX building.
(Reporting By Tom Polansek; editing by John Wallace)