Agnelli family acquires Cushman & Wakefield for $563m

A subsidiary of the Fiat automobile family is acquiring Cushman & Wakefield, the world’s largest privately owned property services firm, in a $563m transaction.

The Agnelli family of Fiat automobile fame is acquiring a controlling stake in New York-based Cushman & Wakefield for $563 million (€430 million) in the latest acquisition of a real estate services firm. Prior to the transaction, Cushman was the world’s largest privately owned property services firm. 

The acquisition, which values Cushman at $834 million, is being made via IFIL Group, the family’s investment arm, which will take a 68 percent stake in the company. IFIL will be replacing real estate development and investment firm Rockefeller Group International as Cushman’s controlling shareholder.

IFIL has the opportunity to acquire an additional 8 percent of the company, which will remain in the hands of Cushman management and employees. Cushman chief executive officer Bruce Mosler will stay in the top spot, post-acquisition.

“Securing IFIL as our partner puts Cushman & Wakefield in a position to take advantage of a consolidating industry to push forward with our strategic growth plan,” Moser said in a statement.

IFIL is acquiring the company with cash and is not utilizing any leverage in a transaction, according to a press statement released Tuesday.

Cushman manages more than 430 million square feet of space globally and negotiated $69 billion in transactions in 2005. The firm has a presence in 55 countries via 197 offices and 11,500 employees. Last year, the company’s revenues increased 21 percent to $1.2 billion.

The Agnelli family has been involved in the realm of private investment for some time, having once made international private equity investments via its EXOR vehicle.

With more and more investors looking at the property sector, the Cushman deal represents the latest example of interest in real estate services companies. This week Trammell Crow shareholders approved the acquisition of that company by international property brokerage firm Richard Ellis. The $2.2 billion transaction is set to close this week. Trammell’s real estate services operations will reportedly be folded into those of Richard Ellis, while the investment and development groups will remain independent, wholly owned subsidiaries.

Earlier this week, Apollo Management agreed to acquire Realogy, the publicly traded owner of the Century 21 and Coldwell Banker franchises, for $9 billion.

Also announced this morning was the acquisition of Millenium Funding Group, a mortgage banking firm, by Atlanta-based private equity firm Roark Capital.