New Brookfield Office CEO Prepares for Transition

Serving in his current role as global chief investment officer for the last year at Brookfield Office Properties (NYSE: BPO) has helped him prepare for his new role as CEO of the company, according to Dennis Friedrich.

In a video interview with REIT.com at REITweek 2012: NAREIT's Investor Forum, Friedrich discussed the transition to his new role and the challenges in the office market. In the past year, he has been in charge of overseeing Brookfield Office's growth initiatives and helping to develop the firm's capital allocation strategy. He said acting as chief investment officer has also enabled him to better familiarize himself with the entirety of the company's platform, including its holdings abroad in markets such as Australia.

Friedrich also noted that the last year has afforded him the opportunity to review Brookfield Office's personnel and resources.

"The one key skill and requirement for a CEO is to make sure the right people are in place and the right resources are in place to get the important initiatives done," he said. "Although I've been with the organization for some time and I have a good sense of the depth of the organization, I've taken a step back in the last few weeks and really taken a new look as to whether we have the right teams and resources in place to be sure that we execute on all of our critical initiatives."

When asked about the toughest challenges now facing him as he transitions into the CEO chair, Friedrich described Brookfield Office's platform as being "in great shape." He noted, though, that the firm does have a significant lease expiration approaching in 2013. Friedrich said one of his priorities is communicating with shareholders that situation is "more of an opportunity than it is an exposure."

Friedrich pointed out that the office markets in which his company operates have essentially moved in tandem with the overall U.S. economy: A recovery that has been "slow and steady." Looking ahead, Friedrich said projections show an ongoing recovery that will remain slow.

"The markets need to get greater clarity in a number of areas," he said. One of those areas is the upcoming national elections in November, Friedrich said. He also noted that as a major landlord to the financial services industry, Brookfield Office could be affected by the fallout from some of the ongoing financial regulatory reforms.