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March 15, 2012 12:08 PM

Zuccotti Calling: Weil Helps Brookfield Ink $1 Billion Industrial Property Joint Venture

Posted by Brian Baxter

Zuccotti Park

Weil, Gotshal & Manges is advising the owner of New York's Zuccotti Park—the onetime home of the Occupy Wall Street encampment—on a new real estate joint venture created to invest up to $1 billion in U.S. industrial properties over the next three years, according to sibling publication GlobeSt.

J. Philip Rosen, cochair of Weil's real estate practice, is leading a team of lawyers from the firm advising Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management on its agreement with Dallas-based Hillwood Development, a real estate investment company chaired by H. Ross Perot, Jr.

Brookfield and Hillwood have agreed to commit a combined $400 million in equity to acquire, develop, manage, and build industrial properties, Bloomberg reports. The joint venture itself, to be called Brookfield Property Partners, will launch as a public entity later this year.

Other Weil lawyers advising Brookfield on the matter include corporate partner Y. Shukie Grossman and tax partner Stanley Ramsay. The firm enjoys close ties to Brookfield, having recently represented its Brookfield Office Properties unit on the acquisition last fall of a 49 percent stake in New York's Four World Financial Center, located only a few blocks from Zuccotti Park.

New York's recent run of warm weather appears to be luring some of the protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement—which has reportedly spent $700,000 over the past six months—back to the park this week. (Brookfield rules, city laws, and a lingering police presence are all designed to prevent protesters from reestablishing a permanent base camp in downtown Manhattan.)

The park itself is named for Weil senior real estate counsel John Zuccotti, a former New York City deputy mayor who currently serves as cochairman of the board for Brookfield Office Properties.

Zuccotti previously served as president and CEO of the Olympia & York Companies, once the world's largest real estate company and the former owner of three of the four buildings that make up the World Financial Center complex. After Olympia & York filed for bankruptcy in 1992, Brookfield acquired the World Financial Center properties when it took a stake in a new company emerging from Chapter 11 in 1996.

Brookfield named attorney and former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. Frank McKenna as its new chairman in 2010. McKenna is one of several lawyers who serve in high-ranking positions at the Canadian financial services giant, which has roughly $150 billion in assets under management.

Brookfield senior managing partner Jeffrey Blidner was once a senior partner at Canadian firm Goodman and Carr, which closed its doors in 2007. Another Brookfield senior managing director, former Goodman and Carr finance lawyer Joseph Freedman, is general counsel for the company. Columbia Law School professor Lance Liebman serves on Brookfield's board.

Brett Fox, a former Cahill Gordon & Reindel associate, serves as general counsel and chief compliance officer for Brookfield Office Properties, whose parent company picked up a $1.7 billion stake in U.S. mall owner General Growth Properties last year. General Growth emerged from bankruptcy in 2010 after a judge backed the real estate investment trust’s partnership with Brookfield on an $8.5 billion reorganization plan.

Brookfield's joint venture deal with Hillwood calls for the latter to choose the companies the duo will invest in, according to the Toronto Star. Hillwood said in a statement that the time is right to begin investing in U.S. industrial and commercial real estate again.

Outside legal advisers for Hillwood were not immediately available. David Newsom is the developer's chief legal officer, a post he has held since 1999.

Photo: Zuccotti Park, with The Am Law Daily's 120 Broadway headquarters in the background, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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