Heisei in Perspective: Japanese Return to N.Y. Real Estate Market


New York, March 20 (Jiji Press)--At the height of Japan's bubble economy in the early Heisei era, Japanese investors snapped up iconic real estate properties in prime New York locations.

As the economy back home took a downturn and the slump turned out to be deep and protracted, however, Japanese businesses remained on the sidelines for many years.

With the Heisei era of 30-plus years coming to a close, Japanese real estate companies are getting a new lease on life in New York, taking part in large-scale projects under strategies very different from those of the bubble economy period.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a series of Japanese deals to buy trophy U.S. assets hit a raw nerve with Americans. After Sony Corp. <6758> clinched a deal to acquire Columbia Pictures Entertainment Inc., a U.S. magazine reacted strongly, labeling it the purchase of "a piece of America's soul."

Soon after Sony's deal was announced, Mitsubishi Estate Co. <8802> agreed to acquire a controlling stake in the company that managed the Rockefeller Center, a Manhattan landmark known for its ice skate link and giant Christmas tree. The acquisition was completed in 1990, but the management company sought bankruptcy protection in 1995 and Mitsubishi Estate sold most of the buildings in the complex.

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