The Wall Street Journal is reporting we can expect yet another shakeup in the commercial real estate world with reports that Cushman & Wakefield, the largest privately-held property services firm, is up for sale with a potential price tag of $2 billion.
The Journal reported that the Agnelli family and its investment arm, Exor SpA, is hiring Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley to help seek a buyer. The family, owns 81% of the New York-based firm while employees own the remainder.
Cushman & Wakefield is the world’s third largest real estate company behind CBRE Group Inc., based in Los Angeles, and JLL, which is headquartered in Chicago. Both The New York Times and Bloomberg reported that the Agnelli family, controlling owners of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles based in Europe, does not want to sell Cushman & Wakefield to one of its rivals and would prefer a private buyer such as a private equity firm or sovereign wealth fund.
Meanwhile, Cushman & Wakefield and Exor, were neither confirming nor denying the reports.
“As is the normal course of business, both Cushman & Wakefield and EXOR continually seek ways to further enhance the businesses, create value and further accelerate their plans. There is currently no transaction to disclose, nor guarantees that such a review may result in any transaction involving Cushman & Wakefield,” a Cushman & Wakefield spokesperson said in a written statement.
But coming off the best year in its 98-year history and at a time when commercial real estate prices and values are on the rise again, it could be a good time to shop the company around.
“There are a number of private equity shops that are likely buyers for C&W who have been buying other real estate brokerages and related service companies in the hopes of building up a real estate powerhouse to possibly take public.”
Cushman & Wakefield recently closed on the acquisition of Massey Knakel Realty Services, a New York boutique brokerage, for a reported $100 million.