How a Canadian firm has taken on Wall Street’s private-equity titans Brookfield looks well-prepared for the next downturn

August 29, 2019

David Hodes was a contributor to this article. 

 

ON THE 67TH floor of One Manhattan West, a new glass tower in the island’s drab south-west, construction managers survey the skyline. They are about to sign off on a feat of engineering. The 303-metre skyscraper is the tallest part of a $5bn office, retail and residential project covering an area the size of 100 football fields. Resting on a huge concrete slab covering active rail tracks, the weight is carried by a column sitting on the sturdiest parts. The first tenants are due to move in within weeks.


One Manhattan West is the culmination of a decades-long bet by Brookfield Asset Management. The Canadian firm bought the land in 1996 as part of its swoop on Olympia and York, a bankrupt builder. The towers are an apt metaphor for its success in alternative asset management, investing in the likes of property, infrastructure and private equity. With $388bn under management (debt included), it rivals Wall Street giants like Blackstone and Carlyle. Insiders reckon it can grow further.

 

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