Bank of China Sells Distressed $151M Office Loan in Chicago

Bank of China Sells Distressed $151M Office Loan in Chicago

Liang Weiwei
2 min read

The Bank of China to Sell $151 Million Distressed Office Loan Tied to Manulife's Tower

The Bank of China is making a move to sell a $151 million distressed office loan connected to Manulife's 40-story tower at 200 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, following Manulife's default. This strategic decision sheds light on the challenges within Chicago's commercial real estate market. The property, originally purchased by Manulife for $215 million in 2013 and refinanced for $163 million in 2019, is now facing a steep discount sale due to high vacancy rates in the area. This has prompted other lenders such as New York Life Insurance and Blackstone to follow suit, offloading troubled office loans and indicating a collective retreat from the struggling office sector.

Lenders are shifting their strategies to sell off loans at a discount and mitigate risks in response to the broader distress, a move away from the traditional approach of holding onto underperforming assets, reflecting a significant shift in the market.

Key Takeaways

  • Bank of China's sale of a $151M distressed office loan connected to Manulife's tower stems from Manulife's default.
  • The 40-story tower is facing a discount sale due to high vacancy rates in Chicago's commercial real estate.
  • New York Life Insurance and Blackstone are also offloading troubled office loans, reflecting a market-wide trend.
  • The Chicago office market currently has a 28% vacancy rate, demonstrating general market distress.
  • Lenders are now opting to sell loans at a discount, diverging from the traditional approach of retaining underperforming assets.


The strategic decision to sell the distressed office loan by the Bank of China, echoed by institutions like New York Life Insurance and Blackstone, signifies a collective shift away from underperforming commercial real estate, particularly in troubled markets like Chicago. This move is likely to lead to amplified discounted property sales, impacting both property values and investor confidence. In the long term, this shift may prompt a restructuring of the commercial real estate market, as lenders prioritize risk management and asset liquidity over retaining potentially volatile investments.

Did You Know?

  • Distressed Office Loan: This refers to a loan associated with a borrower facing significant financial struggles, often indicating a high risk of default, particularly in cases where the property fails to generate enough income to cover the loan payments, commonly due to high vacancy rates or decreased market value.
  • Extend and Pretend: This strategy involves lenders in commercial real estate extending the repayment period of a loan at risk of default, rather than foreclosing on the property. The goal is to "pretend" that the loan is performing normally, hoping for improved market conditions and eventual repayment by the borrower, in order to avoid immediate recognition of losses and costly foreclosure processes.
  • Commercial Real Estate Vacancy Rates: These rates represent the percentage of unoccupied space in commercial properties like office buildings, retail spaces, or industrial facilities. High vacancy rates indicate weak market demand, which can lead to decreased property values, financial strain on owners, and potential defaults on loans secured by these properties.

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