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  1. Reclusive billionaire Robert Miller built a business empire far from the public eye. Now, a bitter divorce has thrown his legacy into question. By Joe Castaldo From Canadian Business magazine, September 27, 2010 http://www.canadianbusiness.com/managing/strategy/article.jsp?content=20100927_10022_10022&page=1 To say Robert Miller is a reluctant interview is a grand understatement. He has avoided attention his entire career, and there are no doubt countless activities he would much rather be doing right now than standing in his opulent office with a reporter. He has previously given a single media interview since co-founding Future Electronics Inc., a multinational distributor of electronic components based in Pointe-Claire, Que., that generates nearly $4 billion in revenue each year. Miller is the sole owner. He has never authorized a picture of himself to be published, and his name is rarely, if ever, attached to his extensive charity work. Miller does not do public appearances. He will never be seen at a ribbon-cutting ceremony or posing with an oversized novelty cheque. His desire for privacy has been his most identifiable trait — aside from his wealth. This magazine estimated his net worth last year at $1.19 billion. Forbes magazine valued him at US$2.5 billion. In the absence of any visible public image, the one surrounding Miller is that of an eccentric billionaire recluse. But now he has welcomed a reporter into his office, extending a large hand and wearing a warm smile. He is a tall, lanky man with a slightly stooped posture, sporting a pair of chunky black orthopedic shoes and rimless glasses. At 65, his hair is tinged with grey. He says he would like to write a book about Future Electronics some day. "It's an amazing story," he says in a gravelly baritone. "It could fill 600, 700 pages." The meeting comes at a time when the comfortable, profitable obscurity in which both Miller and his company have operated is threatened. He is in the midst of a long-running and acrimonious divorce proceeding with his ex-wife, Margaret Antonier, which has thrown this most private of men and his business empire into an unflattering spotlight. The pair was married for nearly 38 years before Miller filed for divorce in 2005. Assets likely totalling hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, are at stake, but the exact details of the proceedings are sealed in a Montreal court. The legal battles do not end there. In June, Miller filed lawsuits in Florida and Montreal against Antonier and the real estate development company they co-own, Miromar Development Inc. He is alleging Antonier and another executive are shutting him out of the company, and have even siphoned money from the firm. Antonier's lawyers, meanwhile, have accused Miller of "horrendous personal behaviour," the specifics of which are outlined in a filing Miller's lawyers have requested the court keep sealed. A Florida newspaper picked up on the case, followed by the Journal de Montreal, which splashed a picture of Miller across its front page, the first photo of him ever published. What it all means for the business empire he built remains to be seen. For Miller himself, it means reluctantly inching from the shadows to take hold of his public image. But that image is anything but simple. Current and former employees — even competitors — describe him as a genius and a visionary. Everything about him, from the way that he operates his company and interacts with employees to the many varied causes he supports (cryogenics research, for one) contribute to the image of a tycoon unlike any other. The more he reveals, the question "Who is Robert Miller?" becomes all the more difficult to answer. The basic biographic details are simple enough: Miller was born in 1945 and raised in Montreal, and later studied at what was then called the Rider Business College in New Jersey. He worked as a radio disc jockey in New Jersey in the 1960s, where his music program, The Bob Miller Show, aired three hours a day during the week and six hours on Sundays. He moved back to Montreal and joined a small wholesaler called Specialty Electronics. Owner Ben Manis, an acquaintance, hired him. Miller threw himself into the job and became close with Manis's son, Eli, who also worked at Specialty. But the younger Manis eventually had a disagreement with his father and left the company. Miller suggested he and Eli go into business for themselves. In 1968, they started Future Electronics out of a small rented office in Montreal. They essentially acted as middlemen, buying obscure electronic parts from component manufacturers and selling them to makers of finished products, ranging from consumer goods to industrial equipment. Manis says he came up with the name. "I just sort of said, let's forget the past. Look to the future," he says. The company grew steadily, and Miller proved to be a workaholic. To Manis, who didn't share his partner's devotion, it wasn't evident Miller had any outside interests. "Something came into his head, and he said, 'What do I need him for?'" Manis recalls. In 1976, Miller bought his partner's half of the company for $500,000. Future operated differently nearly from the start. Distributors in this industry are essentially stores for electronic components, but typically try to limit their inventory, reducing costs and risks. Component prices are volatile, and no one wants to sell product at a loss. Instead, Miller bought large quantities of components when they were cheap. He then charged a significant markup selling to equipment manufacturers when demand hit. Put crudely, Miller made his name as a speculator in electronic parts, and he's an exceptionally gifted one. One former vice-president who asked to remain anonymous recalls only one slip-up in his 15 years at the company, and there were consequences. "Some people were demoted," he says. Miller is often credited with having an intuitive sense of the market, but his moves are based on excellent intelligence. He got to know many of the executives at component makers in part to find out where manufacturing would be constrained. "Just through networking, he got a feel for what commodities would be hot," says the former VP. Holding inventory has another major advantage. "We became known for being the one place you could go to and always find product," says Gregg Smith, another former vice-president, adding that was how Future won new customers. The model works because Future is privately held. Building out the infrastructure to hold loads of inventory is expensive and tough to justify to shareholders. So too are speculative bets. But as the sole proprietor, Miller is accountable only to himself. Today, the product marketing department, mostly housed at headquarters, is the heart of the company. The department buys from suppliers and sets resale prices for Future branches across the world. Competitors assign product marketers to work with specific suppliers, but Miller turns the model on its head. His employees focus exclusively on a component group, becoming experts able to see trends in the market for specific parts. The job is demanding. "The phone is ringing non-stop," recalls a former employee. "It would be usual to have three or four lines on hold while taking another call and trying to close a deal." The pace takes its toll on some. One former employee recalls developing migraines, another, stomach pains. (Future has a medical clinic on-site). Lindsay Blackett worked at Future for six years in sales and marketing, and is now Alberta's culture minister. "Politics, people think it's hardball. But it's nothing compared to Future," he says. In the 1990s, when Blackett worked at Future, Miller would call up individual workers on the floor to inquire about particular deals. "That could be very intimidating, or very rewarding," he says. "He knew what everyone was doing in that building." Competition thrives at Future, which not everyone can handle. "Robert Miller sat on a cloud like Zeus and said, 'Go at it, boys,'" recalls the former VP. "He saw that through confrontation, people would excel." Those who do perform rise quickly through the ranks, and salespeople can make hefty commissions. More than 10 years ago, Future bought massive amounts of tantalum capacitors, used in mobile devices, before the wireless boom hit. When it did, supply was scarce — except at Future. The company sold millions of them a month with a markup as high as 2,000%. Gross profits were so large that for a couple of years, Miller held monthly meetings with sales staff in the auditorium. He handed out their commission cheques individually, from smallest to biggest, announcing the sum for all to hear. The largest topped six figures. Those at the bottom were driven, not only by the desire for bigger commissions but out of embarrassment, to make more and bigger sales. Employees who have little interaction with Miller tend to regard him with a mixture of apprehension and awe. Spotting their boss loping through the hallways is akin to a celebrity sighting. Usually the only opportunities for many to lay eyes on their leader are the addresses he gives roughly once a quarter. He'll often speak for well over an hour, sometimes two. "I always say the intellectual property for Future Electronics is Robert's brain," says Lindsley Ruth, a corporate vice-president. Even employees many years removed from the company still respectfully refer to him as Mr. Miller. Those who work more closely with Miller say he offers plenty of encouragement and room to be entrepreneurial. A few years ago, Jamie Singerman, currently a corporate vice-president at the company, was rolling out a new division called Future Lighting Solutions, which is focused on the LED market. Future didn't have expertise in that area, and building it up required lots of investment. "I went in with a presentation," Singerman recalls. Miller didn't look at it and instead asked if it was the right thing to do. "I said yes, and he said, 'Done.'" Miller is sometimes unpredictable, however. A few years ago, some of the product specialists in Montreal were told not to come in for a month to allow their managers to fill in and become more knowledgeable about the parts the company was dealing with. A former product specialist says many of his colleagues felt they would no longer be needed, and started looking for other jobs. The managers, meanwhile, were overworked and started polishing up their resumés, too. "If the exercise was a natural culling exercise," says the former employee, "it worked." The first time people outside the industry heard of Future Electronics or Robert Miller came on May 7, 1999, when some 30 RCMP officers, in the presence of an FBI agent, raided corporate headquarters. They toted away dozens of boxes of material for reasons officials would not disclose. The company's lawyers successfully fought in court to keep investigators from looking at the seized material, arguing the search was unjust. After six months of media lawyers wrangling in court, the search warrant detailing the reason for the raid was unsealed by the Supreme Court of Canada. The U.S. Department of Justice alleged Future was defrauding a handful of U.S.-based suppliers out of approximately US$100 million a year. The company was accused of maintaining two sets of accounting records — one real, one false — and only Miller and select executives, dubbed the A-Team, had access. The false records were allegedly used to take advantage of debits and rebate programs from suppliers so that Future could pad its margins. Miller never spoke to the press, but Future issued statements denying any wrongdoing and calling the allegations "absurd." There were also whispers the whole investigation was sparked by disgruntled ex-employees, and based on a misunderstanding of how the distribution business worked. More than a year later, Future's lawyers succeeded in quashing the search warrant that justified the raid, and the seized material was returned without having been examined. Nearly three years after the initial search, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its investigation entirely. Neither that investigation nor anything else has kept Miller from expanding his company to become the fourth-largest electronics distributor in the world. Future Lighting Solutions is booming, scaling up from virtually nothing in 2004 to nearly $350 million in revenue today. The division, which doesn't simply distribute parts but works with customers to meet specific lighting needs, could some day rival the size of the components business. The company is also re-launching a division called Future Active Industrial that focuses on the countless smaller customers generally ignored by larger distributors. The beneficiaries of Future's success spill far beyond the company's headquarters. Miller committed years ago to giving away more than half his earnings to charity. Much of it goes to employees and their families. Miller receives many letters from employees seeking help, often for medical issues. Gina Galardo joined Future 17 years ago as an administrative assistant, but over the years, fielding these requests eventually took over her job. Lori-Ann MacDonald was brought on six years ago to assist. In an interview in a Future boardroom, they explain that when a letter comes in, they conduct research to find the best doctors or specialists, book appointments, provide moral support or anything else that needs doing. Miller has a deep interest in medical research with extensive connections in the community, and can usually immediately recommend a doctor or clinic. He has paid for expensive medical procedures for countless employees, and finds time for hospital visits and phone calls. "Should we get the binders?" MacDonald asks. She makes a phone call, and two other assistants enter, each with two five-inch-thick binders in their arms. The binders are brimming with letters and thank-you cards from employees, organized alphabetically by name. Galardo and MacDonald are soon lost recounting the stories on each page. There is even a section on Ben Manis, the man who hired Miller at Specialty Electronics back in 1967. Manis is in his mid-90s today. Miller employed him at Future for a time and set him up with an apartment across from headquarters. He now supports Manis's accommodations in a seniors' residence, and has allotted money for his funeral. The two have lunch plans for Manis's 100th birthday, however. "I think this sums up Mr. Miller," Galardo says, turning the page. The allegations being made in a Florida civil court against Miller by his ex-wife stand in stark contrast to the benevolent man who never says no to a worthy cause. Miller married Margaret Antonier in 1967. They had two sons, and Antonier remained an active businesswoman. She originally worked in radio advertising, and in 1988, Miromar Development Inc. was formed and received financing from Future Electronics. Miller and Antonier each own 50% of the real estate firm, and Antonier serves as chief executive officer. "I have learned the business from the ground up," Antonier wrote in response to e-mailed questions. "I am pretty hard on myself when it comes to succeeding." Miromar built Canada's first outlet mall, in Montreal, and in the mid-1990s, began developing properties in Lee County, Fla., including an 1,800-acre residential resort with a private beach and golf course. Employed at Miromar was Robert Roop, who had worked at Future for 20 years prior. He served as the company's chief financial officer at the time he resigned and moved to Florida to work at Miromar with Antonier. The lawsuit against the firm states Antonier and Roop became "romantically involved," but does not specify when. In 2005, for reasons that remain under seal in a Montreal court, Miller filed for divorce. Antonier's lawyers in Florida say she filed a demand in the divorce proceeding for Miller's stake in Miromar, a company "she created and operated for decades," be transferred to her and that loans owed to Future Electronics by Miromar be forgiven. Miller sought a valuation of Miromar's assets, and in 2008, he filed a lawsuit in Florida to get access to its corporate records that he was allegedly being denied. The case plodded on until February, when Miller voluntarily dismissed it. But in June, Miller filed new lawsuits in Florida and Montreal, including a declaration from Frank Holder, a senior manager at a forensic consulting firm hired to probe Miromar. Holder concluded Antonier and Roop are violating Miller's rights as a shareholder and director in Miromar by excluding him from the company, and refuse to provide full access to corporate documents. He also claims to have discovered Antonier and Roop engaging in "various acts of misconduct, including theft and diversion of corporate funds." Miller is seeking for a receiver to be put in place. Lawyers for Antonier in Florida refute all of the charges and dismiss Holder's account as baseless, arguing criteria for installing a receiver have not been met. They also contend the suit is designed to delay the divorce proceedings, alleging "wrongful acts" on Miller's part and arguing he has a "desperate desire to avoid the consequences of the Canadian divorce proceedings." That case is sealed, and it is unknown what either party is seeking in those proceedings. None of the allegations in the Miromar litigation have been proven in court, and neither side will comment on the cases. But the disputes and the resulting publicity cut very close to the bone for Miller. Not even during the three-year-long ordeal with U.S. authorities did he speak with reporters. But after researching Future Electronics for weeks, this magazine received a call from the company's general counsel with an almost unprecedented invitation: Miller was willing to sit down and talk. Miller is reticent to say too much about himself or the company. He wants to save the best material for the book. But he has agreed to an interview, provided it is not recorded. Similarly, he would not pose for a photograph. He certainly is not afraid of the camera, however. Hanging on the wall opposite his desk are two huge portraits, one of Miller solo in a suit, another of him shaking hands with Quebec Premier Jean Charest. His aversion to published photographs, he explains, stems from his desire for security for himself and his sons. Miller speaks slowly, but has an intense manner. He leans forward when talking, his bushy eyebrows shooting up when he wants to emphasize point, and rarely breaks eye contact. He has a habit of saying whatever pops into his head. While making a point tangentially related to health, he offers that "I have colonoscopies with startling regularity." He also has a knack for numbers. He can remember exactly when Eli Manis phoned him to say he had quit Specialty Electronics: Nov. 20, 1968, at 4:45 p.m. The phone number at Future Electronics' first office? 418-7701. The number of stairs leading up to that office? Thirty-two. He politely deflects most personal questions. He is more comfortable expounding on Future's unique operating model — based on inventory and market research, rather than pipelining product. "It's so basic that it amazes me that our competitors don't recognize the benefit of having inventory," he says. "Inventory drives sales." He attributes much of the company's success to its privately held status. As a sole proprietorship, it can move much more quickly than its competitors. The fact that Miller doesn't have to answer to shareholders or a board of directors also allows Future to offer the longest customer payment terms in the industry, up to 180 days. "Our competitors can't compete with us. They would be clobbered if they did that," he says. The possibility of taking Future public has never seriously crossed his mind. Miller says he had no business mentors. "It all came to me. It's a gift. I just knew what to do," he says. A strange, metaphysical thread runs through some of his other explanations for his success. Take his work ethic. There was a time he worked 765 days in a row, without a day off, and rarely left the office before 11 p.m. He accounts for this drive by telling a story of walking the streets of Montreal once as a teenager and seeing a red Thunderbird convertible. He knew he had to have one some day. "I recall talking to myself. I said, 'Boy, you're really special.' I think that was a real turning point." He pauses. "But I had just been swimming, and I later read swimming releases endorphins. It's a natural high." He reached another turning point in the early-1970s, when his motivation shifted from material wealth to something larger. When one of his acquaintances passed away, Miller was one of only three people to attend his funeral. "I didn't want that to be me," he says. Charity took on a greater importance from that moment. In fact, growing Future's profits in order to have more money to give away is his primary motivation. "I believe you give till it hurts," he says. Talking about specific causes would take hours, he adds, but he does tell a story of a former employee diagnosed with cancer. Miller sent her to a specialist and ultimately paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for her treatment. "Your encouragement ... for treatment gave me the last three years of my life," she wrote to Miller in a letter delivered after her death in 1995. Nearly all of his charity work has been done anonymously. "I'm not seeking attention," he says. The one area to which Miller's name has been attached is cryogenics research. The Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona has even described Future Electronics as its greatest benefactor. "These people are doing so much," he says. "They're pure, pure people." There have long been rumours Miller will have himself cryo-preserved when he dies. "I'll leave it to my sons to decide," he says. He is in good health today, though. In fact, he recommends the line of "life extension" vitamins marketed by the foundation. "They're the finest vitamins known to man," he boasts. "You should take them." After talking for a couple of hours, Miller signals an end to the interview. It's 10:30 p.m., and he's been awake since five in the morning. He walks to the door, again proffering his hand and a smile. There are still many unanswered questions: the backstory to all of the legal proceedings, what he has in store for Future, and whether his new-found openness will last. But he's closed the door. We'll have to wait for the book.
  2. Le titre du groupe Internet réagit à des informations de presse indiquant que l'ancien patron du portail AOL, Jonathan Miller, chercherait à le racheter. Pour en lire plus...
  3. 300 : de la mythologie et de Montréal Marc-André Lussier La Presse Los Angeles Pour donner forme à la vision mythologique d'une bataille de l'Antiquité qu'a créée l'auteur de Sin City, l'équipe de 300 est venue s'installer à Montréal Vous vous retrouvez dans la cité des anges pour assister à une rencontre de presse organisée à l'occasion de la sortie prochaine de 300, une adaptation d'un roman illustré écrit par l'auteur de Sin City, Frank Miller. La tête encore un peu étourdie par les images saisissantes, créées avec des effets numériques, et la manière très «rock'n'roll» avec laquelle on vient de vous entraîner dans une bataille de l'Antiquité, vous tentez de reprendre un peu votre souffle. En vous attardant à la lecture du générique de fin, vous constatez que les noms à consonance québécoise se multiplient, et défilent pendant un bon moment, liés à pratiquement toutes les étapes de la production. «C'est normal, vous dit alors le réalisateur Zack Snyder (Damn of the Dead). Le film a presque entièrement été fabriqué à Montréal. Dans une proportion d'au moins 90 % je dirais!» La société québécoise Hybride, déjà réputée pour la qualité de ses effets visuels numériques, a notamment été mise à contribution. Les vedettes du film, Gerard Butler, Rodrigo Santoro, Dominic West et Lena Headey, se sont ainsi livrées bataille sur un plateau montréalais devant un écran vert, les décors ayant ensuite été ajoutés à l'étape de la post-production. Jeffrey Silver, l'un des producteurs de ce film épique, doté d'un budget d'environ 55 millions de dollars, a déclaré, lors d'une conférence de presse, que le choix d'établir la production à Montréal avait plein de sens. La bataille des Thermopyles «D'une part, les effets visuels qu'avaient créés Hybride pour Sin City étaient déjà remarquables, a-t-il dit en substance. L'approche de cette entreprise cadrait parfaitement bien avec la vision de Zack. D'autant plus que les techniciens qu'on trouve à Montréal sont de toute première classe. Et puis, il faut aussi dire que les politiques dynamiques mises de l'avant par les autorités pour attirer des tournages à Montréal sont très avantageuses sur le plan financier.» Cet aspect de la chose a évidemment eu son importance. Quand les producteurs sont arrivés dans les bureaux de la Warner Brothers pour lancer l'idée de faire un film à partir de l'ouvrage que Frank Miller avait fait en s'inspirant d'une célèbre bataille de l'Antiquité, l'enthousiasme n'était pas délirant. Du moins, pas au début. «On pouvait les comprendre, explique l'un des producteurs. Troy n'avait pas eu vraiment le succès espéré, et Alexandre avait carrément déçu. Ils pensaient que nous arrivions avec un projet de même nature.» Heureusement pour eux, Sin City a pris l'affiche avec le succès que l'on sait. Le caractère unique de 300, tant sur le plan narratif que visuel, a alors pu convaincre les bonzes de la singularité de la vision proposée. Ainsi, 300 relate de façon très stylisée la mythique bataille des Thermopyles, en 480 avant Jésus Christ, alors que 300 Spartiates, menés par le roi Léonidas 1er (Gerard Butler), se battent jusqu'à la mort contre l'armée perse de Xerxès (Rodrigo Santoro). Gonflé à la testostérone, le film va au bout de son parti pris. Et reste fidèle à l'esprit du graphic novel de Frank Miller. C'est dire que rien n'a été «adouci» au profit d'une vision plus réaliste, plus «humaine», ou plus encline à la rectitude politique. Nous nageons ici en pleine mythologie avec des personnages plus grands que nature, tout en muscles, féroces et sanguinaires. Gerard Butler, vu notamment dans Lara Croft et The Phantom of the Opera, a d'ailleurs dû s'astreindre à une discipline toute spartiate pour donner corps au roi Léonidas. Bernie Goldman, l'un des producteurs du film, affirme que le choix s'est fixé sur Butler quand l'équipe a vu la prestation de ce dernier dans Dear Frankie, un film de Shona Auerbach. «Il émanait de lui une telle masculinité dans ce film que nous avons immédiatement pensé qu'il serait parfait pour le rôle de Léonidas. Gerard fait partie de ces hommes qui n'ont besoin de rien dire pour asseoir leur autorité. Je crois que 300 est le film qui fera de lui une star.» 300 prend l'affiche le 9 mars. Bientôt dans La Presse, nos entrevues avec Rodrigo Santoro, Gerard Butler et Zack Snyder.Les frais de voyage ont été payés par Warner Brothers. J'ai vraiment hate de voir le film... surement j'irais le voir en imax!
  4. It is very unfortunate that events that happen in less than a minute can have such a profoundly negative impact on peoples' lives. In this case, I most definitely believe that Michael Bryant is innocent of what is essentially a manslaughter charge. This is one of the rare times I side with a Liberal. By the sounds of things Darcy Allan Sheppard was drunk and riding his bicycle down a major throughfare (Bloor Street). Drinking and riding a bicycle can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving a car. There needs to be laws put in place to regulate cycling just like driving. If it had been the other way around, and Bryant had been drinking and driving, got into an altercation with a cyclist before crashing and killing himself, it would have been completely his fault. But since Sheppard was a cyclist, he couldn't possibly be in the wrong.
  5. Find out how these new developments managed to surviveBy KATHERINE DYKSTRA January 12, 2011 The developers of the 95-unit Griffin Court, on 10th Avenue between 53rd and 54th streets, have made no secret of the fact that they are giving the first 15 percent of their buyers a 15 percent discount. The reason? Let’s just say it’s no coincidence that getting contracts signed on 15 percent of the units is exactly what it will take in order to make the condo plan effective. “People would come in and ask how many we’ve sold,” says Ken Horn, president of Alchemy Properties, which is developing Griffin Court. The building came “softly” on the market in March of last year. “People would say, ‘When you have the plan effective, we’d be interested in buying.’ We realized that once we hit that 15 percent level, it [would be] amazing what happened with sales,” Horn adds. And so, after not moving a single unit in that first six months, Alchemy re-launched the sales of Griffin Court in September, initiating the 15 percent-off perk. Today, Alchemy has 15 contracts that are either signed or out for signature. “[Developers] who cut prices to get the pre-sales requirements are smart and will survive,” says Jonathan Miller, president of real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Nothing is easy in today’s tough real estate market, a very different one than, say, four years ago — especially for new developments. To wit, in the second quarter of 2006, 57 percent of all Manhattan closings were on listings in new developments, according to Miller. Compare that to the most recently completed quarter, where only 21.6 percent of closings were in new development. This figure does, however, represent a stabilizing of new development sales, which have hovered in the low 20s for the last six quarters. The low point of 16.4 percent came at the beginning of 2010. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s harder than ever to sell buyers on new development. That’s largely because buyers fear buildings might never be finished (slow sales can lead to reneged financing, which in turn can lead to the dreaded “going rental” or remaining vacant). “Buyers are skeptical still that developers will finish their product. Buyers are really looking for things they can move into in six months,” says Steve Kliegerman, executive director of development marketing at Halstead Property. So, rather than attempt to unload units as soon as a floor plan has been settled on, many developers are waiting to launch sales until the building is nearly finished. That way, buyers can at least walk through a completed model unit. “Most developers are holding product off the market until it is more finished,” says Kliegerman, who launched sales at Gramercy 19 in October. At the time, the project was 55 percent finished in terms of construction; including the on-site sales office. The building’s studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments range from $500,000 to $2.4 million and average $1,400 a square foot. Though 12 contracts have been signed at Gramercy 19, Kliegerman decided to pull four units off the market to wait for their construction to be complete; he wants to show finished products, which he believes can fetch higher prices. Love Lane Mews, a 38-unit conversion in Brooklyn Heights, priced from $1.05 million for a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom to $4.25 million for a 2,400-square-foot three-bedroom, launched sales in November. “We had planned to come to market earlier,” says Laurie Zucker, principal of Manhattan Skyline, which is developing the condo along with Sterling Equities. “It was a difficult construction . . . we thought we’d be on the market during the summer and early fall.” But rather than launch early and attempt to sell off of a floor plan, they held out until there was something for buyers to see. Zucker estimates construction will be complete within the next three to six months. “People aren’t buying from paper anymore, they want to see what they’re getting,” says Corcoran Sunshine Marketing’s Henry Hershkowitz, sales director for 123 Third Ave., a 47-unit condo building at 14th Street and Third Avenue, which came on the market just after Labor Day. “You don’t want to wait until it’s totally done; you just want the tools to sell it.” At 123 Third Ave., Hershkowitz has been able to put more than 80 percent of the units into contract. Condos start as low as $600,000 and go up to $4.525 million. “More than 50 percent [of the building is made up of] one-bedrooms,” Hershkowitz says. “They sold quickly. They’re all sold out.” “There has been some traction in the sense that there has been sales activity,” Miller says of the market overall. “A lot of it was circling around sub-million-dollar properties because that amount could go through Fannie or Freddie in conforming loans.” Of Griffin Court’s 95 units, 46 are below $1 million. Studios start at $625,000 and 681 square feet. “Three, four years ago, the units would go for 25 percent more, [but] our objective has been to price our units to be able to sell,” Horn says. Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/realestate/residential/go_LW7aAM0XPpHPzEzsr0YUwO#ixzz1Aw2q6rJN
  6. La LHJMQ à Verdun Mardi 22 janvier 2008 RDS.ca Pour la première fois depuis 1994, il y aura du hockey de la LHJMQ à l'Auditorium de Verdun.Pour la première fois depuis 1994, il y aura du hockey de la LHJMQ à l'Auditorium de Verdun. Par Stéphane Leroux - Il y aura du hockey de la Ligue junior majeur du Québec dans la région de Montréal, plus précisément à Verdun, dès la saison 2008-2009. RDS a appris que l’homme d’affaires montréalais Farrel Miller s’est porté acquéreur de la concession des Fog Devils de St. John’s, Terre-Neuve. Miller, président de la compagnie SportTV.Com, une entreprise oeuvrant dans la diffusion d’événements sportifs sur internet, a acheté l’équipe terre-neuvienne de la famille Dobbin pour un peu plus de trois millions de dollars. La transaction devra être approuvée par l’ensemble des propriétaires du circuit, vendredi, dans le cadre d’une conférence téléphonique, ce qui ne devrait pas causer de problèmes. Monsieur Miller est âgé de 46 ans, il est né à Montréal et il est diplômé de l’Université McGill. En 2000, Farrel Miller a aussi fondé JumpTV, le plus grand distributeur de canaux internationaux sur le web. L’aventure des Fog Devils dans le circuit Courteau n’aura donc duré que trois saisons. En 2005-2006, l’équipe dirigée par Réal Paiement a attirée en moyenne 3928 spectateurs par match, moyenne qui a chutée à 3666 l’an dernier et à 3331 jusqu’ici cette saison. Comme l’équipe a perdu plus de 750 000 dollars la saison dernière, il n’était pas question pour la famille Dobbin de continuer d’opérer l’équipe au Mile One Stadium de St. John’s. Avant de compléter la transaction avec Farrel Miller, la LHJMQ a vérifié l’intérêt de la ville de St. John’s pour garder l’équipe dans la province de Terre-Neuve, mais le maire Andy Wells a mentionné qu’il n’était pas question que les autorités municipales achètent l’équipe qui lutte présentement pour une place en séries. C’est donc dire qu’après cinq ans d’absence, le hockey de la LHJMQ reviendra dans la métropole. Le Rocket de Montréal avait eu pignon sur rue à l’Aréna Maurice-Richard et au Centre Bell de 1999 à 2003. Pour ce qui est de l’Auditorium de Verdun, il verra du hockey junior pour la première fois depuis 1994, année où le Collège Français avait décidé de fermer ses portes. Contrairement au Rocket, la nouvelle équipe de Verdun n’en sera pas une d’expansion et se présentera l’an prochain avec un noyau relativement solide qui comptera un minimum de quatre joueurs appartenant déjà à des formations de la Ligue nationale. Des travaux de construction de loges corporatives et d’une galerie de presse fonctionnelle seront mis en branle par l’arrondissement de Verdun au cours des prochains jours. Le maire de l'arrondissement, Claude Trudel, nous a d'ailleurs confirmé qu'une entente de principe était intervenue. Le réalignement des sections, le nom de la future équipe de Verdun et la possibilité de voir l’entraîneur-chef et directeur général de l’équipe, Réal Paiement, s’amener à Verdun sont des sujets qui n’ont pas encore été discutés. Les Fog Devils avaient obtenus une équipe d’expansion pour la saison 2005-2006 en même temps que les Sea Dogs de Saint John, au Nouveau-Brunswick. Depuis le départ du Rocket, il était de notoriété publique que le commissaire de la LHJMQ Gilles Courteau tente de ramener une équipe dans la grande région de Montréal… C’est maintenant chose faite !
  7. NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Masters of the Universe have been dethroned. Now the question is just how much Wall Street's meltdown is going to hurt the city of New York and, by extension, its high-priced housing market. Even in a city where $20 million townhouse listings don't raise an eyebrow, signs of trouble abound. Fourth quarter 2008 sales volume was down a whopping 40% from 2007 according to New York brokerage the Corcoran Group. And the average price of existing homes dropped 3.6% during the same period. The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed a price decline of 8.6% for the New York metro area, including the city and the surrounding suburbs, for the 12 months ending November 30. New York's economy runs on Wall Street money, and after the failure of Lehman Brothers and the sales of both Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns, there isn't nearly as much of it as there used to be. After the financial markets imploded, the New York real estate market "stopped dead," said Dottie Herman, CEO of broker Prudential Douglas Elliman. "If you think you're going to lose your job, you're not going to buy. [We're] a long way off from the past couple of years." Whereas bidding wars were once commonplace, city apartments are now languishing on the market. Leonard Steinberg, a Prudential Douglas-Elliman agent who handles many high end listings, has been trying to move a $1.2 million condo located in the Chelsea part of town for more than a year. The home was originally priced at $1.4 million. Gotham's grim outlook And the city's economic conditions are only getting worse. On Friday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced $1 billion worth of budget cuts as Gotham steels itself against a rapidly dwindling tax base. Its coffers are expected to dwindle by a stunning $4.1 billion for fiscal 2009, which ends June 30, thanks to the economic turmoil. Perhaps it's no surprise then that Goldman Sachs recently issued a report predicting that New York City's normally-stratospheric prices will fall as much as 44%. And investors betting on derivatives based on the Case-Shiller Home Price Index aren't much more optimistic. They're betting that New York prices will tumble over 21% over the next 4 years. Jobs are the obvious problem. Some 65,000 payroll jobs were lost in the last three months of 2008 alone, according to the city Comptroller's office. New York's unemployment rate jumped to 7.4% in December, up from 6.3% in November. Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, a premier appraisal firm in the city, said that financial market turmoil could hit home prices harder in New York than anywhere else. "It's more exposed than other metro areas to financial industry job losses," Miller said. And Wall Street types who are lucky enough to hang onto their jobs have seen their 2008 bonuses slashed by 44% compared with 2007 levels. If New York City does somehow manage to dodge the real estate bullet that's crippled so many other metro areas nationwide, it may be thanks to some of the market's unique qualities. "We didn't have the rampant speculation that many places had," said Miller, who cited cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas. Most New York buildings require buyers to run their finances by a coop board for approval, and to put down at least 20%. And, by virtue of its limited size, the city didn't experience the kind of rampant overbuilding that places like the Sun Belt saw. Additionally, the city is benefiting from the overall trend toward urban living that should help maintain demand for housing. "Our findings indicate that upper-middle and high-income households have increasingly chosen to reside in the city, said city Comptroller William Thompson, "suggesting that our city may be more resilient to this economic downturn than in 1990 when companies and families were fleeing New York." All that, however, only helps so much. Any time you subtract billions of dollars from a local economy there will be vast ripple effects. Restaurants, retail putfits and of course, real estate will all suffer. Said Miller: "We're going to have to go through more pain before things get better."
  8. Le 2020 University passe aux mains de l'Industrielle Alliance et d'Hydro-Québec HUGO JONCAS les affaires.com (modifié le 23-03-2011 à 14:35) Décidément, l’Industrielle Alliance et le fonds de pension des employés d’Hydro-Québec adorent le centre-ville de Montréal. Ensemble, ils viennent de mettre la main sur le 2020 University pour 95,45 millions de dollars, a appris Les Affaires. C’est la plus importante transaction dans la métropole depuis janvier 2010. Depuis octobre 2008, les deux institutions étaient déjà propriétaires du 1981, McGill College, juste à côté, à l’ouest. «Pour eux, c’est une acquisition stratégique, dit Brett Miller, vice-président à la direction du courtier CB Richard Ellis, responsable de la vente. Ils rassemblent leurs deux immeubles, et ça permet toutes sortes de possibilités pour les relier.» Le 2020, University est surnommé «tour AXA», du nom de son locataire principal, l’assureur français AXA. Le gratte-ciel de 22 étages compte 433 000 pieds carrés d’espaces de bureaux et 83 000 pieds carrés de locaux commerciaux. Pour Brett Miller, cette transaction démontre la forte demande dont fait l’objet les immeubles de qualité dans le centre-ville de Montréal. «Une bonne douzaine d’acheteurs s’étaient qualifiés, dit-il. Ce n’était pas le seul à ce niveau de prix.» Selon nos informations, le fonds de placement immobilier Homburg Canada a aussi manifesté de l’intérêt, tout comme le promoteur Vincent Chiara. Ce dernier, partenaire de la famille Saputo à la tour CIBC et à la tour de la Bourse, a plutôt mis la main sur le siège social d’Imperial Tobacco, dans le quartier Saint-Henri, à Montréal, pour 24 millions. Acquis en janvier, l’immeuble sera surtout loué au cigarettier, qui y maintiendra son quartier général. Bureaux bien loués… commerces à moitié vides Au 2020, University, le taux d’occupation des espaces de bureaux est de «plus de 90 %», selon Brett Millier. Mais il n’est que d’environ 60 % dans la galerie marchande. «De ce côté-là, il y a du travail à faire, c’est sûr», dit-il. L’Industrielle Alliance a confirmé l’acquisition de l’immeuble mais n’a pas donné de détails. Il a été impossible d’obtenir les commentaires d’Hydro-Québec.
  9. Montréal, toujours une aubaine Publié le 08 juin 2009 à 06h37 | Mis à jour à 06h44 Hugo Fontaine La Presse À l'échelle mondiale, Montréal demeure une aubaine pour les entreprises qui cherchent des bureaux. Les loyers sont six fois moins chers ici qu'à Tokyo, qui trône en tête du palmarès des villes les plus chères du monde. Selon la plus récente étude globale de la firme immobilière CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), louer un bureau dans le centre-ville de la capitale japonaise coûte 183,62$US le pied carré. Cela ne coûte que 31,19$US à Montréal, ce qui place la métropole au 99e rang des 173 marchés étudiés, un gain d'une place par rapport à l'an dernier. Montréal se retrouve entre Santo Domingo, capitale de la République dominicaine (98e), et Honolulu, à Hawaii (100e). En dollars canadiens, le coût de location moyen au pied carré a augmenté de 4,7% en un an à Montréal, pour s'établir à 39,32$ au début mai. En banlieue, le prix moyen est de 25,76$CAN, en hausse de 0,7%. «Nous avons à Montréal un marché très stable, surtout par rapport aux autres grandes villes de l'Amérique du Nord, explique à La Presse Affaires Brett Miller, vice-président-directeur de CBRE. Le taux de vacance est relativement bas (autour de 7%), il n'y a pas de nouvelle construction et la demande est raisonnable.» Un seul immeuble offrira de nouveaux locaux, au 250, rue Saint-Antoine, dans le Vieux-Montréal. Il s'agit de l'ancien édifice de la Gazette, dont 100 000 pieds carrés seront à louer. Vers une pénurie? À Toronto et Calgary, la situation est tout autre, observe M. Miller. Dans ces marchés, il y aura beaucoup de nouveaux immeubles dans les prochaines années, alors que la demande plonge. On peut donc s'attendre à une baisse des prix. Mais à Montréal, un tel scénario est peu probable. «Il n'y a pas beaucoup de propriétaires qui sont en situation difficile et qui vont être obligés de baisser les tarifs pour attirer des locataires.» «Mais lorsque l'économie va reprendre, la demande va augmenter; il y a donc possibilité d'une pénurie de locaux, ajoute M. Miller. Il faut donc s'attendre à un marché plutôt favorable aux propriétaires.» Dans ce contexte, M. Miller recommande aux locataires «d'utiliser la faiblesse psychologique aujourd'hui à Montréal et de renégocier les taux à long terme, pour ne pas être pris quand le marché reviendra». Baisse globale des coûts Les villes canadiennes de Montréal, Edmonton (65e), Toronto (46e) et Calgary (39e) ont toutes gagné des places dans le classement de CBRE, «en partie en raison de la force de notre économie relativement aux marchés mondiaux», explique John O'Bryan, vice-président du conseil de CBRE au Canada. «Généralement, les coûts de location au pays ont bien tenu par rapport aux déclins enregistrés dans les autres marchés» dans la foulée de la récession mondiale. Globalement, les prix moyens ont diminué de 2,8% dans l'année qui s'est terminée le 31 mars, un retournement majeur par rapport à la hausse de 8% pour la période de 12 mois qui s'est terminée le 30 septembre 2008. «La grande récession mondiale a clairement frappé les marchés de location de bureaux, particulièrement ceux qui comptent des concentrations significatives d'employés du secteur financier, explique Raymond Torto, économiste en chef de CBRE. Les marchés les plus onéreux sont considérablement moins chers qu'il y a un an, et les locataires sont maintenant en position forte pour dénicher des bureaux de premier plan à coût attrayant.» En Amérique du Nord, le Midtown new-yorkais reste le quartier où les bureaux coûtent le plus cher, à 68$US le pied carré. C'est tout de même un déclin de 32% en une année, le plus important recul au monde, mis à part celui enregistré à Singapour (-34%). Coût moyen de location des bureaux ($US par pied carré) 1- Tokyo (centre): 183,62 2- Londres (West End): 172,62 3- Moscou: 170,24 4- Hong Kong: 150,42 39- Calgary: 54,57 46- Toronto: 51,82 56- Vancouver: 45,47 99- Montréal: 31,19
  10. Montréal, toujours une aubaine Publié le 08 juin 2009 à 06h37 | Mis à jour à 06h44 Hugo Fontaine La Presse À l'échelle mondiale, Montréal demeure une aubaine pour les entreprises qui cherchent des bureaux. Les loyers sont six fois moins chers ici qu'à Tokyo, qui trône en tête du palmarès des villes les plus chères du monde. Selon la plus récente étude globale de la firme immobilière CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), louer un bureau dans le centre-ville de la capitale japonaise coûte 183,62$US le pied carré. Cela ne coûte que 31,19$US à Montréal, ce qui place la métropole au 99e rang des 173 marchés étudiés, un gain d'une place par rapport à l'an dernier. Montréal se retrouve entre Santo Domingo, capitale de la République dominicaine (98e), et Honolulu, à Hawaii (100e). En dollars canadiens, le coût de location moyen au pied carré a augmenté de 4,7% en un an à Montréal, pour s'établir à 39,32$ au début mai. En banlieue, le prix moyen est de 25,76$CAN, en hausse de 0,7%. «Nous avons à Montréal un marché très stable, surtout par rapport aux autres grandes villes de l'Amérique du Nord, explique à La Presse Affaires Brett Miller, vice-président-directeur de CBRE. Le taux de vacance est relativement bas (autour de 7%), il n'y a pas de nouvelle construction et la demande est raisonnable.» Un seul immeuble offrira de nouveaux locaux, au 250, rue Saint-Antoine, dans le Vieux-Montréal. Il s'agit de l'ancien édifice de la Gazette, dont 100 000 pieds carrés seront à louer. Vers une pénurie? À Toronto et Calgary, la situation est tout autre, observe M. Miller. Dans ces marchés, il y aura beaucoup de nouveaux immeubles dans les prochaines années, alors que la demande plonge. On peut donc s'attendre à une baisse des prix. Mais à Montréal, un tel scénario est peu probable. «Il n'y a pas beaucoup de propriétaires qui sont en situation difficile et qui vont être obligés de baisser les tarifs pour attirer des locataires.» «Mais lorsque l'économie va reprendre, la demande va augmenter; il y a donc possibilité d'une pénurie de locaux, ajoute M. Miller. Il faut donc s'attendre à un marché plutôt favorable aux propriétaires.» Dans ce contexte, M. Miller recommande aux locataires «d'utiliser la faiblesse psychologique aujourd'hui à Montréal et de renégocier les taux à long terme, pour ne pas être pris quand le marché reviendra». Baisse globale des coûts Les villes canadiennes de Montréal, Edmonton (65e), Toronto (46e) et Calgary (39e) ont toutes gagné des places dans le classement de CBRE, «en partie en raison de la force de notre économie relativement aux marchés mondiaux», explique John O'Bryan, vice-président du conseil de CBRE au Canada. «Généralement, les coûts de location au pays ont bien tenu par rapport aux déclins enregistrés dans les autres marchés» dans la foulée de la récession mondiale. Globalement, les prix moyens ont diminué de 2,8% dans l'année qui s'est terminée le 31 mars, un retournement majeur par rapport à la hausse de 8% pour la période de 12 mois qui s'est terminée le 30 septembre 2008. «La grande récession mondiale a clairement frappé les marchés de location de bureaux, particulièrement ceux qui comptent des concentrations significatives d'employés du secteur financier, explique Raymond Torto, économiste en chef de CBRE. Les marchés les plus onéreux sont considérablement moins chers qu'il y a un an, et les locataires sont maintenant en position forte pour dénicher des bureaux de premier plan à coût attrayant.» En Amérique du Nord, le Midtown new-yorkais reste le quartier où les bureaux coûtent le plus cher, à 68$US le pied carré. C'est tout de même un déclin de 32% en une année, le plus important recul au monde, mis à part celui enregistré à Singapour (-34%). Coût moyen de location des bureaux ($US par pied carré) 1- Tokyo (centre): 183,62 2- Londres (West End): 172,62 3- Moscou: 170,24 4- Hong Kong: 150,42 39- Calgary: 54,57 46- Toronto: 51,82 56- Vancouver: 45,47 99- Montréal: 31,19