MEN OF PROPERTY: The Canadians Who Are Buying America by Susan Goldenberg

MEN OF PROPERTY: The Canadians Who Are Buying America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

While Canadian developers have been picking up US properties since the mid-1970s, they are far from ""buying America."" (By the author's estimate, Canadian investment in Stateside real estate currently amounts to just $6 million--out of a domestic total of $10 trillion.) Titular overkill, however, ranks among the minor imperfections of this disjointed, crudely executed, and inconclusive survey. With only the scantiest framing to put the situation in perspective, Goldenberg offers a tediously detailed profile of each of the Dominion's ten largest development organizations: privately-held Olympia & York (with perhaps $3.5 billion worth of assets, plus equity in Trizec); Cadillac Fairview (40 percent owned by Seagram heirs); Trizec (a Zeckendorf creation now controlled by the non-Seagram branch of the Bronfman family); diversified Nu-West (also big in the energy field --to counter cyclical swings in real estate); Daon (which recently bought into Atlanta's Omni International complex at distress prices); Oxford (40 percent owned by Toronto Dominion Bank, Canada's fifth largest); Bramlea (an almost wholly Canadian operation); Campeau (a one-man show run by the founder, a Levitt-type post-WW II housing tycoon); Carma (a builders' cooperative in which Nu-West holds a 48 percent interest); and Genstar (an NYSE-listed conglomerate that happens to have close to $600 million worth of real estate assets). Here and there, something interesting turns up--Nu-West's pioneering work in graduated-mortgage payments, the linkage between developers and Canada's national banking system--but for the most part this is undiscriminating reportage, as attentive to bygone boardroom battles or the self-serving pronouncements of second-string executives as to today's project financings. Conspicuous by its absence, moreover, is an appreciation of the fact that open-door access to US markets may be in jeopardy--what with Reagan's threatened retaliation against Canadian investment policies. A parochial, largely pointless treatment of an inflated topic.

Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 1981
Publisher: Everest