The Real Deal New York

Qatari royal HBJ is secret backer of Harry Macklowe’s One Wall: sources

Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber al-Thani, one of the world’s richest men, is main equity behind FiDi condo conversion, 432 Park retail
By Hiten Samtani and Mark Maurer | March 28, 2017 04:27PM

From left: Harry Macklowe, One Wall Street and Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber al Thani (Credit: Getty Images and Macklowe Properties)

Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber al-Thani, one of the world’s richest men and the former prime minister of Qatar, is the secret equity partner bankrolling Harry Macklowe’s One Wall Street, The Real Deal has learned.

Al-Thani, who is known in the power centers of the global elite as HBJ, is the primary investor in Macklowe’s purchase of One Wall, sources familiar with the deal said. He is also an investor on the retail condo at 432 Park Avenue, according to sources and court documents.

HBJ’s real estate interests include some of the world’s most exclusive properties, with an emphasis on tony real estate in London. He owns, for example, a stake in One Hyde Park in London, the Harrods department store, the Shard, the Canary Wharf district and Claridge’s, according to the Financial Times.

As prime minister of Qatar between 2007 to 2013, HBJ wielded the financial might of the state of Qatar, and controlled the Qatar Investment Authority, one of the world’s richest sovereign wealth funds with over $250 billion of assets under management. He left his position in 2013, as part of an upheaval in which the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, stepped down in favor of his son and the current emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Representatives for Macklowe couldn’t be reached for comment. The developer secured Qatari funds to finance his $585 million acquisition of One Wall Street in 2014, with Qatar National Bank and Deutsche Bank providing $460 million. On an interview that aired Monday on Bloomberg, Macklowe talked about increasing the equity in One Wall Street and seeking a lower construction loan. Initially, Macklowe tapped a JLL team led by Dustin Stolly and Aaron Appel to head the search for a $1 billion loan. But now, Macklowe is seeking a loan somewhere in the realm of $850 million, sources said. Macklowe and his partners are also now investing about $200 million in additional equity to make up for the lower loan amount, sources added.

Sources said that with that kind of financial heft behind him, Macklowe may have more time than other developers to score financing. “If you’ve got that kind of equity behind you, you can’t be in trouble,” said one developer active in the market.

The conversion, once expected to be at least half-comprised of rentals, will now either be entirely condo or close to it. Macklowe told Bloomberg the lower section of the tower would be priced from $2,000 to $2,500 per square foot, the upper third from $2,800 to $3,000 per square foot. CORE is expected to launch sales at the property later this year.

The 944,000-square-foot project’s total cost is about $1.5 billion. The projected sellout of the project is about $2.5 billion, sources familiar with the project said. Whole Foods will be the retail anchor tenant, taking about 44,000 square feet of the 150,000-square-foot retail space.

HBJ is also the equity behind Macklowe’s purchase of the retail space at 432 Park Avenue, the supertall condominium he developed with CIM Group. City records show that Macklowe closed on the retail space deal in June 2016 with Qatari investment bank QInvest for $411.1 million. But sources said the bulk of the money from the QInvest side came from HBJ. HBJ’s son, Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al Thani, is the chairman of the board of directors of QInvest.

In a lawsuit filed in January 2017 over a dispute centered on the 432 Park retail deal, one of the exhibits included was a November 2014 letter that referred to an entity, “432 Park Holdings S.A.” that partnered with Macklowe on the purchase. Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad signed the letter on behalf of 432 Park Holdings S.A.

HBJ’s name also appeared in the Panama Papers, which revealed an offshore company used to manage his $300 million megayacht in Mallorca.

When asked about a remark the former emir made about HBJ being the power behind the throne, HBJ told the FT: “The emir always likes to tell jokes about me. Thank God, there are wealthier people in Qatar.”

Chava Gourarie and Adam Pincus contributed reporting.

(To see a selection from our database of properties owned by Macklowe Properties, click here)