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Apr 17, 2018

Brookfield gets financing from heavyweight backers for US$15B GGP deal: Report

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Brookfield Property Partners LP has lined up a slate of heavyweight backers to help finance its planned takeover of GGP Inc.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, a CBRE Group Inc. unit, Future Fund and TIAA affiliate TH Real Estate have agreed to invest in select GGP malls, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The properties weren’t identified.

When the agreement to acquire GGP was announced in March, Brookfield Property said the cash portion of the roughly US$15 billion deal for the second-largest U.S. mall owner would be funded in part by about US$4 billion from joint-venture equity partners. Brookfield Property, the real estate arm of Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc., didn’t name its partners at the time.

Representatives for Brookfield, Calpers, CBRE and TH Real Estate declined to comment on the GGP mall partnerships, and representatives for Future Fund didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Landlords have increasingly been willing to top up their coffers by selling stakes in their best-performing malls. For example, TIAA in 2015 bought a 12.5 per cent stake in GGP’s Ala Moana Center mall in Hawaii shortly after AustralianSuper acquired a 25 per cent stake in the same property.

The continued willingness of large investors to increase their holdings in retail real estate comes as the sector finds itself splitting into haves and have-nots. GGP’s portfolio of Class A malls are, by definition, better-positioned and less prone to the pain -- in the form of declining rents and occupancy -- being endured by retail centers elsewhere in the U.S.

Brookfield Property last month reached a deal to buy the 66 per cent of Chicago-based GGP it doesn’t already own. GGP shareholders will receive US$23.50 a share in cash, or either one Brookfield unit or one share of a new real estate investment trust for each share they own. The deal, increased from a November proposal, consists of US$9.25 billion in cash and about 254 million shares in Brookfield Property and the new REIT.

Brookfield plans to redevelop the land GGP’s malls are situated on, using its expertise in multifamily, office and hotel properties to increase the value of the real estate.