Brookfield to take property arm private in $6.5 billion deal

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The pandemic has taken its toll on the company as widespread stay-at-home orders kept workers from offices and shoppers from malls

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Brookfield Asset Management Inc. said it reached a US$6.5 billion agreement to acquire the shares of Brookfield Property Partners LP it doesn’t already own, taking its real estate arm private.

The Canadian alternative-asset manager said Thursday it plans to acquire the minority stake for US$18.17 per unit. That would mark a 10 per cent increase to the US$16.50 a unit Brookfield Asset offered in January, and a 26 per cent premium over where the shares traded prior to that earlier proposal.

Brookfield Property’s board has unanimously approved the deal, according to the statement by the companies. Brookfield Property shares closed Wednesday in New York at US$17.79. Shares rose 2.7 per cent in premarket trading Thursday to trade just above the bid price at US$18.27.

“We are pleased to have reached agreement with BPY’s independent directors on a transaction we believe is appealing to BPY unitholders in many aspects and allows for greater optionality in how we manage our portfolio of high-quality real estate assets, Nick Goodman, Brookfield Asset Management’s chief financial officer, said in a statement, using the stock symbol for the real estate arm.

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Brookfield already owns 60 per cent of Brookfield Property Partners, which had a market value of about US$17 billion as of Wednesday’s close.

The deal is subject to a vote of public unitholders, and other conditions, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021, the company said.

Under the terms of the deal, Brookfield Property shareholders can choose to take US$18.17 per unit in cash, 0.3979 of a Brookfield Class A share or 0.7268 of a Brookfield Property Partners preferred unit, subject to a proration. The maximum cash amount is 50 per cent.

Investors in Brookfield Property REIT Inc. and Brookfield Office Property Exchange LP will also participate in the transaction, the company said.

Goodman said in January that taking the real estate subsidiary private was appealing because it has consistently traded at a discount to the underlying value of its assets, even before the coronavirus pandemic. He said he believed that was because much of the company’s value was created through the development of projects like New York’s Manhattan West, which take years to generate returns for investors.

The pandemic has taken its toll on the company as widespread stay-at-home orders kept workers from offices and shoppers from malls. Brookfield Property Partners reported a US$2 billion loss last year, and its shares had fallen 20 per cent in the year before the take-private proposal became public in January.

Brookfield Property Chief Executive Officer Brian Kingston said in a letter to shareholders in February that rent collection from office tenants remained at normal levels, although occupancy lagged in many markets since the pandemic began. Collections in its retail properties and foot traffic in its malls haven’t fully recovered, he added.

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

Bloomberg.com



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