Finding Opportunities in Europe's Debt Crisis

With the sovereign debt crisis in full bloom across much of Europe, some companies are shifting their focus—searching for opportunities amid distressed nations and their struggling businesses.

Map of Europe
Map of Europe

"We are always willing to pay a good price for a great asset," J. Bruce Flatt, CEO, senior managing partner of Brookfield Asset Management, told CNBC's "The Strategy Session" on Monday.

"When you have a situation where you are under distress, you usually try to sell the things you can get the best price for," Flatt said.

For that reason, Brookfield is looking for opportunities in South America, where the biggest buyers of these (potentially distressed) assets have been European companies, particularly in Brazil, he said.

"Today it's actually intriguing. We've spent the last twelve months working on looking at different things in Europe. We think there's going to be many more opportunities because ultimately what happens is countries get squeezed, banks get squeezed and then corporations get squeezed. They are going to look for help," Flatt said.

"Our business is about helping companies out—recapitalize themselves," he said, adding, "over the next 12 to 18 months there's going to be a number of opportunities."

Two years ago, during the financial crisis, the company helped restructure and finance General Growth Properties, the nation's second-largest shopping mall operator.

"Similar to Euorpean situations, in General Growth there was a company that we knew could be revived," he said.

"We believed that retailing in the United States was going to come back—it's a $14 trillion dollar economy—and if we could provide them money, when no one else was going to provide it, they could reorganize the company," Flatt said.