(Source: Reuters)

A Manhattan office tower bought by property investor Harry Macklowe for $498 million nearly three years ago was taken over on Wednesday by one of its lenders, which made the only bid at an auction — for $100,000.

Canada’s Otera Capital Corp, which holds a $130 million mezzanine loan on The Financial Times Building at 1330 Avenue of the Americas, entered the minimum bid for the 40-story building, which is about 65 percent occupied.

Otera, a subsidiary of Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, Canada’s largest pension fund, filed to foreclose on the property after Macklowe defaulted in January.

The result of the auction allows the pension fund to take ownership of the building, which serves as the U.S. headquarters for the financial newspaper owned by Britain’s Pearson Plc (PSON.L), and assume the $240 million mortgage.

Property analysts expect many more foreclosures in the U.S. commercial real estate sector, which boomed from about 2004 to 2007 when sky-high prices were fueled by easily available debt financing that was underpinned by overly optimistic forecasts for rents, occupancy and future sale prices.

The building now is not worth the amount of the first mortgage, said a leading Manhattan commercial real estate broker, who did not want to be identified for commercial reasons.

Last month, Boston’s John Hancock Tower was sold at a foreclosure auction for $660 million, about half of what Broadway Partners paid for it in 2006.

Read Ilaina Jonas and Ted Kerr’s full article “Pension fund takes over Macklowe skyscraper in NY” Reuters (April 22, 2009)

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