Though Edper became many things over the years of its operation from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s, it began as a sleepy holding company for the shareholdings of its two original owners, Edward and Peter Bronfman, the scions of the Seagram’s liquor fortune. Despite losing 90 percent of its market capitalization from 1989 to 1993, Edper survived. After a series of asset transfers, a newer, more streamlined company surfaced in 2005. The company, based in Toronto’s tony Brookfield Plaza, was renamed Brookfield Asset Management.
A series of transactions beginning last winter involving Brookfield Asset Management and Rouse Properties (a New York-based mall developer in which Brookfield has a substantial investment) illustrates how complex financial moves with related parties can prove remarkably advantageous.
Enter the name of Toronto-based public company Brookfield Asset Management into a search engine and it delivers more than 1 million results. The global conglomerate, whose annual sales exceed $18 billion, controls ports in England, owns Manhattan’s prestigious World Financial Center and sells Chicago a fair measure of its electricity. Yet the massive enterprise is better known for what it owns than how it operates.