Why One of America’s Biggest Mall Owners Is Spending $5 Billion to Rescue Retailers

The parent company of one of the country’s largest mall owners is betting big on retail.

Brookfield Asset Management Inc. — which owns global commercial real estate firm Brookfield Property Partners — announced today that it would infuse $5 billion into a program to help bolster struggling retailers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The so-called “retail revitalization program,” said the Toronto-based company, is meant to bring much-needed capital to businesses with operations in major markets where Brookfield operates, including North America, Europe and Australia. It will be funded by Brookfield, as well as its institutional partners, and led by Ron Bloom, managing partner and vice chairman of Brookfield’s private equity group.

“This initiative is being designed to assist medium-sized enterprises in getting back on their feet,” Bloom said in a statement. “We believe this is a critical component to getting the economy moving again, and we would like to partner with companies and entrepreneurs that can draw on our capital and expertise to stabilize and grow their business.”

In addition to such capital, Brookfield intends to make its resources available to those businesses, which must show “normalized” revenues of $250 million or greater and have been operating for at least two years.

“We look forward to contributing capital and expertise to support the retail sector through this time and position businesses for long-term success,” added Bloom.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the retail sector particularly hard: Over the past several weeks, department stores, fashion brands and specialty firms have either temporarily shuttered doors or significantly reduced operations — ultimately impacting their bottom lines.

Just today, Neiman Marcus announced that it had filed for Chapter 11 protection — three days after J.Crew entered bankruptcy proceedings. Other chains are reportedly eyeing similar moves, including JCPenney and Gap. Meanwhile, Lord + Taylor is expected to liquidate its 38 locations as soon as the United States government reopens the economy.

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