Paulson Boosts Real Estate Assets in Puerto Rico

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Paulson & Co., the hedge fund controlled by billionaire investor John Paulson boosted its real estate assets in Puerto Rico by acquiring an office building in San Juan from American International Inc (NYSE:AIG).

In an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg, Paulson & Co. confirmed its acquisition of the American International Plaza, 326,000 square –foot office building from the insurance giant. The hedge fund said the property was built in 1991, and it is located in the Hato Rey financial district.

Michael Barr, senior real estate partner at Paulson & Co., said, “We remain optimistic about the future of the San Juan real estate market including the office, residential and hotel sectors.” The hedge fund did not disclose the terms of the acquisition.

According to Puerto Rico officials, Paulson & Co. plans to invest additional $1 billion on the projects of the commonwealth over the next two years.

Paulson & Co.’s real estate assets

In addition to the American International Plaza, Paulson & Co. said its real estate assets in Puerto Rico include the St. Regis Baja Resort, the Condado Vanderbilt, La Concha Renaissance Hotel and Tower. The hedge fund also owns various parcels of lands for future development.

During the 2014 Puerto Rico Investment Summit last April, Mr. Paulson said he believed that Puerto Rico will become the Singapore of the Carribean. At the time, he emphasized that he is looking for more real estate opportunities while the commonwealth turns itself around.

There had been reports that Mr. Paulson considered relocating to Puerto Rico to take advantage of new tax laws, but the hedge fund manager denied it. In a previous statement, Paulson & Co. said while Mr. Paulson “considered real estate investment and has vacationed on the island; he has no plans to move to Puerto Rico and to establish a permanent residence there.”

Puerto Rico’s debt load

Puerto Rico and its agencies have a debt load of $73 billion. Its economy sunk over the past five fiscal years. Earlier this year, the three biggest rating companies reduced its credit rating to junk.

Last June, Puerto Rico enacted the Public Corporations Debt Enforcement and Recovery Act to create a clear legislative framework that would help public corporations overcome financial problems “through an orderly, statutory process,” and to handle debts fairly while maintaining critical services to citizens, as well as infrastructure upgrades.

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