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Removing Trump name from NYC apartments we own is not political, billionaire Sam Zell says

The collision of business and politics was on display in New York on Wednesday, as the Trump name was being taken off three large apartment complexes owned by billionaire Sam Zell's Equity Residential.

Workers were removing the golden words "Trump Place" from the buildings on Riverside Boulevard on the Upper West Side, following the Republican businessman's election as president last week.

In an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box," Zell said the name change — in the works for more than a year — resulted from the expiration of an agreement with Donald Trump. "We are basically renaming the buildings according to the street," Zell said.

"Our goal was we have no interest in having any political position on anything," Zell said. "Once Mr. Trump made the decision that he was going to enter the political scene, we looked at it and said, 'We just want to be neutral. We don't want to have an opinion.'"

Zell stressed said the decision to remove Trump's name from the buildings had nothing to do with resident protests. The New York Times on Tuesday reported hundreds of tenants had signed a petition to "Dump the TRUMP name."

In a statement to CNBC, Zell wrote, in part: "We chose to wait until after the election so we would not be inadvertently making a political statement."

On CNBC Wednesday, Zell also said the stock market rally since Trump's election represents a "huge psychological difference" about the prospects for the economy.

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