Cushman & Wakefield, DTZ create another mega-firm with $2 billion deal

Brett White

Brett White

by Dan Rafter

Brett White just became an even bigger name in the commercial real estate industry across the Midwest and the country.

White is the new chairman and chief executive officer of the newly created mega-firm that will result from the merger between Cushman & Wakefield and DTZ. The parent company of DTZ, TPG Capital, announced yesterday that it has reached an agreement to pay $2 billion to buy Cushman & Wakefield from Exor SpA, that company’s majority owner.

The new company will operate under the Cushman & Wakefield name. It will also boast more than 43,000 employees across the globe and annual revenues of $5.5 billion. It will manage a portfolio of more than 4 billion square feet.

White, in a prepared statement, said that the merger creates a real estate firm that will have unprecedented reach.

“The companies have remarkable complementary skills and reach in different geographies,” White said in his statement. “Whether in New York, London or Shanghai, this will be a formidable combination.”

White, of course, is no newcomer to the commercial real estate industry. He brings more than 30 years experience to his new position. Formerly, he served as chief executive officer of CBRE.

The deal, as large as it is, happened relatively quickly. Midwest Real Estate News and other publications first reported on the possibility of a big merger in late April.

It remains to be seen how the merger will impact the Midwest. Cushman & Wakefield and DTZ already have a large reach in this part of the company. DTZ already impacted the Midwest commercial real estate landscape with its earlier purchase of Cassidy Turley. That name, long part of the Midwest real estate scene, has now disappeared.

After the merger is complete, John Santora, the current chief executive officer of North America at Cushman & Wakefield, will become the company’s chief operating officer and chief integration officer. Tod Lickerman, now the global chief executive officer of DTZ, will become president of the new Cushman & Wakefield.

“The combined company will truly represent the best our industry has to offer,” said Edward Forst, president and chief executive officer of Cushman & Wakefield.

No big deal such as this happens by accident. It takes plenty of work to hammer out the details.

Law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy advised Cushman & Wakefield throughout the merger process, with corporate partners David Zeltner and Alex Kaye leading the way.

“We are excited to be advising Cushman & Wakefield on this transformative transaction, which is a significant milestone in the company’s illustrious history,” Zeltner said in a written statement.

White said that the new company, while certainly a global power, will succeed because of the strength of its local brokers. That will be the case in the Midwest, where the new company will now compete against the likes of CBRE and JLL.

“While breadth and depth are important to serve clients, it’s not just about size,” White said. “It’s also about local expertise and deep customer service, which are strong traits of Cushman & Wakefield and DTZ, and ultimately what will differentiate us going forward.”

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