TORONTO - Onex Corp plans to take advantage of a building crisis in the U.S. commercial real estate market, an official with the Canadian private-equity company said on Thursday.

Our hope is that we will be able to partner with some of our institutional relationships to take advantage of the looming crisis in the U.S. commercial real estate industry, Onex Managing Director Andrew Sheiner told investors.

The $6 billion U.S. commercial real estate market is a key focal point for the Federal Reserve and U.S. lawmakers who peg it as a particular danger to the nascent economic recovery.

The belief that distressed mortgage assets are priced at a discount in the United States, with significant potential upside, has led a number of large investment firms to create real estate investment trusts (REITs) to buy up those assets.

This market hasn't cracked yet, but we believe it will and look forward to being in a position to take advantage of that when the time comes, said Sheiner.

Onex said in August it earned C$83 million ($76.8 million), or 68 Canadian cents a share, in the three months ended June 30. That was up from a loss of C$18 million, or 14 Canadian cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

Shares in Toronto-based Onex were down 2.6 percent at C$24.30.

($1=$1.08 Canadian) (Reporting by Pav Jordan; editing by Rob Wilson)