DTZ to acquire Cushman & Wakefield for $2 billion

The combination creates an imposing competitive threat to commercial real estate service giants CBRE Group and JLL.

May 12, 2015 |
DTZ to acquire Cushman & Wakefield for $2 billion

Cushman & Wakefield was founded in New York, N.Y., on October 31, 1917, by brothers-in-law J. Clydesdale Cushman and Bernard Wakefield. Photo courtesy Cushman & Wakefield 

DTZ, a leading global commercial real estate firm, has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Cushman & Wakefield from Exor for $2.04 billion. The merger would create a commercial real estate services company with over $5.5 billion in annual revenue, 43,000 employees, and more than 4 billion sf in its global real estate management portfolio.

The combined company intends to keep the Cushman & Wakefield name. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The DTZ-Cushman marriage would create a company whose revenue from brokerage fees roughly equals that of JLL, which has been the second-largest commercial real estate services entity behind CRBE.

Cushman & Wakefield, which was founded in 1917, has 259 offices in 60 countries. In April, it acquired J.F. McKinney + Associates, a leading leasing firm representing over 16 million sf of Chicago-area office space.

Chicago-based DTZ operates from more than 260 offices in 50 countries that completed $63 billion in transaction volume last year. DTZ reportedly has been interested in merging with Cushman for several years.

“It’s not just about size. It’s also about local expertise and deep customer service,” said Brett White, the former CRBE Chief Executive, who became DTZ’s Executive Chairman in March, and will be Chairman and CEO of the combined company.

The DTZ-Cushman marriage would create a company whose revenue from brokerage fees roughly equals that of JLL, which has been the second-largest commercial real estate services entity behind CRBE. According to The Wall Street Journal, CBRE’s 2014 revenue was $9 billion, JLL’s $5.4 billion. 

Last November, a private equity consortium backed by TPG Capital, PAG Asia Capital, and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, paid the Australia-based engineering firm UGL $1.1 billion to buy DTZ. At the time, DTZ was in the process of acquiring the New York-based commercial real estate brokerage Cassidy Turley. That deal was finalized in January, and the two firms were merged, creating a company with $2.9 billion in annual revenue, more than 28,000 employees, managing 1.9 billion sf of property and 1.3 billion sf of facilities for institutional, government, corporate, and private clients.   

Exor SpA—which gets $1.28 billion in net proceeds from its part of the Cushman sale—is owned by the Agnelli family, reputedly the largest shareholder in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Exor has stated it plans to proceed with its merger with Axis capital Holdings.

Details about combining DTZ and Cushman—such as how market or portfolio overlaps will be reconciled—have yet to be disclosed. But the management team has already begun to take shape.

Once this deal is completed, Tod Lickerman, DTZ’s chief executive (and JLL’s former CEO), will become president of the new company. Cushman’s North America chief executive, John Santora, will hold titles of COO and chief integration officer. Carlo Barel di Sant’Albano, Cushman’s international chief executive, will take a senior global leadership role at the combined company. Edward Forst, Cushman’s CEO, is expected to leave the company.

Millbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy advised Cushman in this deal.

Overlay Init