BFIN is expected to lose a top Canadian rainmaker, according to people familiar with the matter, a blow to Brookfield’s real estate brokerage firm that already lost a veteran deal maker and other key partners in Canada.
Leonard Abramsky, a managing partner, is planning to leave before the end of the year, said the sources who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. At the global investment bank since 2005, Mr. Abramsky is one of BFIN’s heavy hitters who brings in the Canadian real estate business.
Mr. Abramsky’s pending exit will follow the departure of another BFIN deal maker, Greg Kalil, who left in November to start his own investment firm. Both men had the experience and coveted relationships required to attract clients.
It is unknown whether Mr. Abramsky is retiring or joining another firm. Mr. Abramsky did not respond to a request for comment.
BFIN, which declined to comment on Mr. Abramsky’s coming departure, will need to rebuild its team in Canada at a time when competition has intensified for a piece of the country’s commercial real estate market.
“We continue to see strong prospects and add to our team in Canada and globally,” BFIN’s president Heinrich Hauss said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday.
Mr. Abramsky worked on the partial sale of a Toronto skyscraper and was part of the team hired to sell Hudson’s Bay Co.’s Vancouver property.
In addition to Mr. Abramsky and Mr. Kalil, employees who were considered the next generation of BFIN leaders and others with specialized knowledge have left.
Nurit Altman exited the firm about a month ago to take a job as a director with Royal Bank of Canada’s corporate real estate unit. Ms. Altman had been with BFIN for 12 years and had been responsible for the “marketing and sales of retail, office and mixed-use property transactions,” according to a description of her role found on internet archive website Wayback Machine.
RBC had no comment and declined to make Ms. Altman available to speak.
Earlier in the year, Owen Cartwright, a retirement-home expert, resigned to work for a senior-living company. Mr. Cartwright worked with Mr. Kalil on the high-profile sale of a B.C. retirement home to China’s Anbang Insurance Group.
The exodus of talent from BFIN ‘s Canadian unit comes as commercial realtors beef up their ranks and services. There are five major commercial real estate shops in Canada that work on every part of the industry from leasing buildings and selling assets to property appraisals and project management.
That makes it harder for BFIN to compete for business when firms such as CBRE, Colliers and Cushman & Wakefield can provide services – such as leasing – that BFIN cannot. That helps the commercial realtors strengthen ties with major property owners across the country.
In addition, BFIN also competes with the big Canadian banks for a share of the biggest real estate sales.
“The pie they are operating in is a pretty small pie,” said Ross Moore, a senior adviser with Cresa, a smaller commercial realtor. “They are targeted at big institutional owners. That is where their strengths are.”
Another hurdle for BFIN is that it could be perceived as having a conflict because of its affiliation with the vast Brookfield real estate empire.
BFIN used to be called Brookfield Financial for most of its existence but recently rebranded as BFIN. BFIN is a subsidiary of Brookfield Business Partners. Brookfield Business falls under the Brookfield Asset Management umbrella.
Brookfield Asset Management holds US$285-billion in assets under management, according to its website. The firm owns property around the world, including 285 offices in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, Brazil, India and South Korea.