Red Hat mulls offers to relocate corporate HQ

Posted December 9, 2010 4:21 p.m. EST
Updated December 9, 2010 4:58 p.m. EST

— Red Hat has offers on the table from multiple cities and developers, including some who are willing to build a new office tower for the Raleigh-based company if it decides to move its corporate headquarters, according to multiple sources.

Raleigh faces keen competition for Red Hat, which sources said is looking for as much as 300,000 square feet of space. Red Hat currently occupies well under 200,000 square feet in two buildings on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus.

Given the size of the company’s request, developers “from Durham, the I-40 strip and in Raleigh” have offered packages that include construction of a building with Red Hat serving as the anchor tenant, sources said.

“It would be dynamite” for the winning developer and city, one executive said.

Another executive very familiar with the situation in Raleigh noted that a “number of cities” have made offers.

Jim Whitehurst, chief executive officer of the world’s top Linux open source software developer and services provider, declined comment Thursday morning.

“What are we saying now,” Whitehurst asked to his two media relations personnel. Then came the response:

“Red Hat is a healthy company. We are always planning for expansion and examining our best options. We have no additional comments at this time.”

Red Hat, a publicly traded company (NYSE: RHT), is set to announce its most recent quarterly earnings on Dec. 21. This year has been a record one for Red Hat in revenues and profits. Its stock is trading at 52-week highs, and its market value is above $8 billion.

Sources confirm that Red Hat solicited and received several specific proposals before Thanksgiving in response to a “request for information.” Red Hat has been reported to be actively looking at options for new space beyond the Triangle, including Boston, Atlanta and Austin, Texas.

Whitehurst, a former chief operating officer at Delta Airlines in Atlanta, recently toured the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham, which is owned by Capitol Broadcasting. Capitol is the parent company of WRAL-TV, and Local Tech Wire.

City of Raleigh officials are “totally engaged” in keeping Red Hat in Raleigh, said Harvey Schmitt, chief executive officer of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

Gov. Bev Perdue and the N.C. Department of Commerce are also involved in the negotiations, Schmitt added.

“We have put our best foot forward,” added Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. He said he remains “hopeful” that Raleigh will win the corporate recruiting battle.

One source said that NCSU representatives “keep asking” Red Hat for a timeline about its decision-making process but as of Tuesday had not been told anything specific.