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Brookfield To Kick Off Opportunity Zone Fund

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US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin discusses the opportunity zone program during a press conference in April at the White House.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin discusses the opportunity zone program during a press conference at the White House.

Brookfield Asset Management plans to jump into the crowded field of opportunity zone funds, which have sprouted to get a piece of the action created by a section of the 2017 bill offering tax breaks for investing in low-income areas.

Brookfield Property Partners is launching such a fund in the next month or two, CEO Brian Kingston said while speaking at a conference in California this week, Bloomberg reports.

Institutions such as sovereign and pension funds are more interested than ever in real estate, as they seek to hedge against long-term liabilities, Kingston said. 

The move comes not long after the second round of opportunity zone regulations was released by the federal government, which clarified a number of uncertainties surrounding the program.

In particular, now that the Treasury Department has clarified that sales of assets within qualified opportunity zones would not trigger capital gains taxes, major investors can really start moving into OZs.

Already in the OZ fund game are some very familiar names. Silverstein Properties and Cantor Fitzgerald rolled out a $1.8B fund recently, while CIM Group raised a $5B fund and Starwood Capital Group set up a $500M one. 

Anthony Scaramucci's hedge fund, Skybridge Capital, has launched a $3B fund, partnering with Westport Capital Partners in the venture.

Apart from the prospects offered by OZ funds, Brookfield is optimistic about the U.S. economy and the demand for commercial real estate. Brookfield Asset Management CEO Bruce Flatt told Bloomberg TV in late April that there are no signs of an imminent recession, though one will come eventually.

"[The commercial market] is strong," Flatt said. "Office occupancies are the highest they've ever been in most cities."