Business / Companies

Billionaire plans Cushman & Wakefield bid

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-03-18 08:40

Billionaire plans Cushman & Wakefield bid

The booth of a Fosun International Ltd's subsidiary company at a pharmaceutical expo in Shanghai. The company is reportedlyweighing a bid for commercial property broker Cushman & Wakefield Inc. [Photo provided To China Daily]

Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang's Fosun International Ltd is weighing a bid for commercial property broker Cushman & Wakefield Inc, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Shanghai-based investment firm is among several companies that have expressed interest in Cushman, whose owners are seeking about $2 billion, according to the people. The process is at an early stage and any deal would be several months away, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

Cushman, the largest closely held provider of commercial property services, offers a footprint in 60 countries employing about 16,000, according to its website. The New York-based firm, majority owned by the Agnelli family's Italian holding company Exor SpA, hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley to sell the company and prefers a buyer that isn't a direct competitor, people with knowledge of the plan said last month.

Fosun, which has holdings as varied as a Chinese drugmaker and a stake in Italian suitmaker Raffaele Caruso SpA, has been acquiring overseas property as it seeks to boost returns from its insurance operations. Last year it agreed to buy office buildings in Tokyo and Sydney, including Citigroup Center in the Japanese capital, after purchasing New York's One Chase Manhattan Plaza for $750 million in 2013.

An acquisition of Cushman would bring Fosun industry expertise that could help the Chinese company manage its global real estate investments and source new deals, one of the people said.

Chinese buyers spent $39 billion on global real estate in the six years ended in 2014, up from $92 million in 2008, according to Real Capital Analytics Inc.

The property broker's net income excluding some items rose 33 percent last year to $61.6 million. Sales rose 14 percent to $2.85 billion, driven by a 25 percent increase in fee and service revenue from the Asia-Pacific region.

Fosun and partners have announced $21.1 billion of acquisitions over the past year, including the takeover of French resort operator Club Mediterranee SA and the purchase of a minority stake in UK tour operator Thomas Cook Group Plc.

In May, it bought Tokyo-based real estate management company Idera Capital Management Ltd from Japanese private equity firm Unison Capital for an undisclosed sum.

Cushman & Wakefield, founded in 1917, competes with publicly traded CBRE Group Inc and Jones Lang LaSalle Inc, as well as Wells Fargo & Co unit Eastdil Secured LLC.

Guo has a net worth of $5.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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