Power on point of sale of US property


POWER Corporation's receiver, Mr Tom Grace, is at an advanced stage of negotiations for the sale of a Palm Beach, Florida, office complex, according to informed sources.

Power owns 78 per cent of the US property and the remaining 22 per cent is owned by Mr Burton Handlesman, a local property developer.

The sources say that Mr Handlesman, who manages the property, is the most likely buyer. Negotiations on the sale have been taking place since Mr Grace was appointed receiver of Power Corporation last November.

Although none of the subsidiary property companies which control the US properties is in receivership, negotiations have been taking place on the sale of the other larger US properties. Prior to the receivership, around 85 per cent of the group's assets were in the US.

Negotiations are also taking place on the sale of the New York property, Rhinelander Mansion, which is let to the fashion company, Polo Ralph Lauren. The property is located in Madison Avenue. A number of parties are said to be interested in the property, but Polo Ralph Lauren, as the tenant, may end up as the purchaser, the sources say.

Polo Ralph Lauren is controlled by designer Mr Ralph Lauren. US merchant bank, Goldman Sachs, has a minority stake.

The building, a four storey faux French chateau, built in 1899, has been admired for its architectural features. Power purchased the building in 1989 for $43 million. The previous owners, a group of Arab investors, bought the building five years earlier for $6.3 million.

Power's other US properties consist of the San Francisco Shopping Centre, 345/347 Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles, and an interest in the Ambassador Hotel site in Los Angeles. Negotiations are also taking place for the sale of these properties but they are not thought to be as imminent as the Palm Beach and New York properties.

Mr Grace was appointed receiver by a syndicate of banks, led by Irish Intercontinental Bank. A management buy out led by former Power chairman and managing director, Mr Tony Leonard, acquired the Irish properties.