Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Post: Greenland wouldn't sign Atlantic Yards deal without meeting Bloomberg (hence the photo)

Update 4/29/15: the CBRE Greenland deal was a victor.

There's an interesting nugget in Lois Weiss's New York Post article today, REBNY, set, go: The Most Ingenious Deal of the Year nominees, regarding the nomination of the Forest City Ratner deal with the Greenland Group for 70% of Atlantic Yards (excepting the arena and B2 tower), later renamed Pacific Park.

It's not exactly news that the CBRE brokerage team used the Kowloon section of Hong Kong to explain Brooklyn to the Chinese buyers, since that was explained in a Real Estate Weekly interview with CBRE's Marcella Fasulo in March.

“We only took the asset out to a very limited audience," Fasulo said. "We approached Greenland, and within a couple of days they were planning a trip to New York City.”

It is news that, as Weiss writes, "[w]ith no word for 'joint venture' in Mandarin, the brokers also had to devise an alternate, corporate-like deal structure with a board of directors."

Meeting with Bloomberg

And this is news:
Greenland’s top US executive and later its head of global development visited and approved. But Zhang Yuliang, Greenland’s chairman and president, would not sign the “Memorandum of Understanding” without meeting then Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The CBRE team arranged a City Hall meeting in 2014 and the MOU was signed.
That explains the photo at right taken in October 2013, posted on Greenland's web page for news releases but not by the mayor's office, as I wrote last June.

Nine days before Forest City and Greenland announced the memorandum of understanding, the mayor met in his office with Zhang, as well as Deputy Mayor Robert Steel and Borough President Marty Markowitz.

According to a crude Google translation of the 10/11/13 news release, Bloomberg "pointed out that New York City will be their help to solve the various problems encountered in the Green Group in the United States investment process, coordinating parties to provide more convenient conditions and quality service for Greenland Group, strive for the early realization of cooperation expected results."

As noted in coverage of the EB-5 immigrant investor program, Chinese investors like to be reassured by the role of government in a project, however spurious. In this case, the role of government is significant.

Bloomberg, of course, could not guarantee government assistance to the project over the term of its buildout. However, he could stress the importance of cooperation. And the photo with Bloomberg--he's somber, Zhang looks enthused--certainly added to Greenland's cachet in its effort to grow globally.

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