National Post (Latest Edition)

Brookfield bids to take Property Partners private

Committee to review offer

- Scott Deveau

Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and a group of investors have offered to acquire the stake in Brookfield Property Partners that they don’t already own, in a US$5.9 billion bid to take the real estate company private.

The Canadian alternativ­e- asset manager said it has made a proposal to acquire the outstandin­g units for US$ 16.50 each, or about a 14 per cent premium to Thursday’s closing price in New York. Brookfield Asset Management already owns about 60 per cent of Brookfield Property Partners, which had a market value of US$ 13.8 billion as of Thursday’s close. Units of Brookfield Property Partners jumped as much as 18 per cent to as high as US$ 17.14 apiece in New York trading Monday, after an earlier Bloomberg News report.

Privatizin­g Brookfield’s real estate subsidiary is appealing because it has consistent­ly traded at a discount to the underlying value of its assets, Nick Goodman, Brookfield Asset Management’s chief financial officer, said in an interview.

“We believe that it has been consistent­ly discounted for more than just the past year,” Goodman said. “We believed it would be a premium offering to the market given it has a unique global portfolio and some of the highest quality real estate in the world. But it has consistent­ly struggled to trade at its net asset value.”

While Brookfield Property Partners traded at all- time lows in March, near the beginning of the COVID- 19 pandemic, Brookfield waited until the unit price had stabilized to push ahead with the privatizat­ion effort, Goodman said.

The stock also trades at a discount because a lot of the company’s value has been created through the developmen­t of long- term projects like New York’s Manhattan West, part of the Hudson Yards redevelopm­ent, Goodman added. Such projects can take years to start generating returns for investors.

“We’ve just built more conviction over time that the right form for this is in the private markets,” he said.

Under the proposal, investors in Brookfield Property Partners can either elect to take the US$16.50 per unit in cash, or instead choose 0.4 of Brookfield Asset Management’s stock, or 0.66 of Brookfield Property’s preferred units. Holders of Class A stock in Brookfield’s other publicly traded real estate entity, Brookfield Property REIT Inc., can participat­e once they exchange their shares for Brookfield Property Partners units.

Brookfield Property Partners and Brookfield Property REIT acknowledg­ed they had received the proposal in a separate statement Monday. Brookfield Property Partners has formed a special committee of independen­t directors to review the offer, and it said investors don’t need to take any action at this time.

Any transactio­n would be subject to a vote requiring approval from the majority of minority holders, Goodman said.

The proposal within the current market should be attractive to both Brookfield Property investors and Brookfield Asset Management, according to Dean Wilkinson, an analyst with CIBC Capital Markets. Brookfield Property’s management has tried for years to narrow the trading discount to no avail, in part, because some of its assets in the portfolio, namely U. S. malls, have been a roadblock in realizing a higher, more appropriat­e valuation, he said.

Brookfield Property Partners owns, operates and develops one of the largest portfolios of real estate in the world. At the end of September it had about US$ 88 billion in total assets, including developmen­ts like London’s Canary Wharf and Brookfield Place in New York. In 2018, Brookfield acquired GGP Inc., the second-largest mall operator in the U. S., for about US$ 15 billion.

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