The fate of retailers and shopping malls is becoming even more inextricably linked as mall owner Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE:BAM) announced it is establishing a $5 billion fund to take non-controlling interests in ailing retailers.

With its Brookfield Property Partners (NASDAQ:BPY) unit, which typically holds Brookfield Asset's mall investments, already taking stakes in Aeropostale and Forever 21 to help forestall the ravages of the retail apocalypse, this latest effort deepens the relationship between landlord and tenant.

Woman with face mask at mall

Image source: Getty Images.

Facing the future hand in hand

Brookfield Asset Management is funding the program through its internal resources as well as those from its institutional partners. 

Brookfield managing partner Ron Bloom will oversee the investment program and said in a statement: "This initiative is being designed to assist medium sized enterprises in getting back on their feet. We believe this is a critical component to getting the economy moving again, and we would like to partner with companies and entrepreneurs that can draw on our capital and expertise to stabilize and grow their business."

Yet it's also a matter of self-preservation. As retailers close doors and create mall vacancies, it disincentivizes consumers from visiting, leading to additional retailers closing.

That was the rationale behind the retail investments Brookfield Property made in partnership with fellow mall owner Simon Property Group (NYSE:SPG) and brand management firm Authentic Brands Group. Forever 21, for example, represented a significant presence in its malls, accounting for approximately 2% of its base rents.

The new program will focus on retail businesses with $250 million or more in revenue and at least two years of operation.