Brookfield Asset looks to Europe for bargains

Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:55pm EDT
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TORONTO, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Brookfield Asset Management is seeking assets in Europe to take advantage of an expected wave of sales, and also sees opportunities in Latin America and in the hard-hit commodity sector, the company's chief financial officer said on Wednesday.

Toronto-based Brookfield, which manages more than $175 billion, has spent the last five years bulking up on energy, U.S. real estate and emerging markets infrastructure assets.

But with U.S. targets becoming pricier, Brookfield is seeking cheaper investments in Europe, where things have calmed to the point where it's an attractive market, Brian Lawson told an investment conference in Montreal.

"For the past while we've been buying non-European assets from European owners that are deleveraging," he said.

"Now we're a lot more comfortable ... in buying assets on the continent."

Currently, only C$7 billion of Brookfield's assets under management is in Europe and the Middle East, versus C$114 billion in the United States.

The company also sees opportunity among hard-hit resource companies, which could be enticed to sell off power or infrastructure assets, which Brookfield covets.

In emerging markets, Brookfield sees opportunities in markets where currencies are falling and capital is fleeing, such as Brazil and Chile, said Lawson.

"All that money flowed in there and then it flowed out, and any time capital's fleeing is a good time to be thinking about entering," he said.

Shares of Brookfield, the center of an investment empire which includes spinoffs Brookfield Office Properties, Brookfield Property Partners and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, rose 36 Canadian cents to C$38.57 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.