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NY judge to OK Empire State Building settlement

NEW YORK — A judge on Thursday backed a $55 million settlement in a battle over the Empire State Building, clearing the way for a plan to let the public buy shares in the New York City landmark.

Judge O. Peter Sherwood said he would formally approve the settlement in coming days with a written ruling.

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It stems from a long dispute over plans by real estate magnates Peter Malkin and his son Anthony to offer the public shares in their holdings in Manhattan and Connecticut, including the 102-story skyscraper. The offering is expected to raise $1 billion for the new Empire State Trust Inc. A lawsuit alleged the building’s owners misled noncontrolling investors about the proposal — an accusation the defendants denied.

The plaintiffs also claimed the initial public offering would place an unfair tax burden on them. The deal will allow the investors to defer taxes on capital gains.

The Empire State Building IPO is viewed as a rare chance for investors to own a piece of history — an Art Deco icon visited by millions yearly and featured in films like ‘‘King Kong.’’

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