Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.
Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.
Operating Revenues: $1.23 billion (2005)
NAIC: 531210 Offices of Real Estate Agents and Brokers
Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., is the largest privately held real estate services firm in the world. Founded as a property management firm, Cushman & Wakefield has also become the largest, nonowner, third-party property manager of commercial space in the world, with 430 million square feet of property under management. Operating from some 200 offices in about 60 countries, the firm serves the real estate needs of corporations and financial institutions worldwide.
In addition to property management and brokerage services, the 11,000-plus employees of Cushman & Wakefield provide research and market analysis and many other advisory services, assisting clients in the buying, selling, financing, leasing, and managing and valuing of assets, as well as providing strategic planning and research, portfolio analysis, site selection, and space location. Through its consulting services operations, Cushman & Wakefield is the only real estate services firm that performs primary research and data-driven analysis on a national and international basis. With more than 200 researchers on staff, the firm’s data and analysis services are used by corporations, financial institutions, U.S. cities, counties, government agencies, and federal agencies, including the Federal Reserve. IFIL Investments S.p.A., a holding company owned by Italy’s Agnelli family, which controls automaker Fiat S.p.A., acquired a 67.5 percent stake in the firm in 2006, replacing previous majority shareholder Rockefeller Group International Inc., a Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd. subsidiary, which had held a 72 percent stake. Bruce E. Mosler is the firm’s president and CEO, and John C. Cushman III serves as chairman of the board.
On October 31, 1917, John Clydesdale (“Clyde”) Cushman and his brother-in-law Bernard Wakefield, with a passion for property management and a belief in applying scientific methodology to it, incorporated their partnership. Cushman & Wakefield was started as a property management company in New York City, where it became the managing and leasing agent for a number of the city’s prominent buildings in the 1920s. The principles of property management to which the founders subscribed were first described by Cushman in a 1922 book titled Management: How Modern Business Buildings Are Operated. Cushman had come from a long line of real estate developers and managers in New York who had established D.A. Cushman Realty Corporation in the 19th century.
Cushman & Wakefield soon garnered a reputation as New York’s premier real estate firm, and the company’s early growth continued into the 1930s, despite the worldwide economic depression.
Having specialized in business buildings in Midtown Manhattan, the company began expanding into the downtown financial district as well when it established a branch office at 30 Broad Street, in the new Continental Bank Building, in 1932. The 48-story building was erected as the new home of the Continental Bank & Trust Company, which occupied the second, third, and fourth floors, with the Continental Safe Deposit Co. located in the basement. The approximately 300,000 square feet of rental space contained within the building, including the ground floor devoted to shops, was handled by leasing agent Cushman & Wakefield.
Into the 1940s, the company dominated the leasing market as New York experienced a new building boom. One of the most noteworthy transactions overseen by the company at this time was the 1946 land assemblage for what became the United Nations complex on First Avenue in Manhattan.
In the years immediately following World War II, the company focused on expanding its services and its geographic reach. A building boom in the 1950s prompted the company to enter the leasing business. Appraisal and financial services units were added, and the company became engaged in all aspects of commercial real estate, including leasing, management, and sales, as well as consulting on the planning and execution of new realty projects. Additional offices eventually opened in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, and Puerto Rico. The expansion was largely facilitated by Leone Peters, who had joined the firm during the Great Depression after being recruited away from his job as a soda jerk near the Cushman & Wakefield office. Peters rose from a position in bookkeeping, taking on more and greater responsibilities in what would be a 59-year career at the firm ending in the position of chairman. His brothers Anthony and Vincent also joined the company early on with positions in the mail room and would also rise to prominence one day.
In the late 1960s, Cushman & Wakefield was involved in Chicago’s Sears Tower project, as developer and consultant. The firm assembled the site for the new Sears, Roebuck & Co.’s headquarters building in downtown Chicago, to be built by 1973 at a cost of more than $100 million. With more than four million square feet of floor space, the building was then the largest in the world and the tallest in Chicago. Following completion of the Sears Tower, Cushman & Wake-field served as leasing and management agent for many years. In 1963, John Cushman III went to work for his grandfather’s company, and in 1967 he was sent to Los Angeles to open an office there and help manage a project the company was developing with Bank of America and Arco. John’s twin brother Lou also worked for the family business.
In a merger agreement announced in June 1970, Cushman & Wakefield became a wholly owned subsidiary of the RCA Corporation. Upon completion of the acquisition, Cushman & Wakefield continued to function autonomously, retaining its management and personnel.
Our Vision: We are the firm of choice—a real estate advisor and principal—the global standard for knowledge, service, and execution. Our Values: These values govern all that we do: Our clients come first. Our foremost standard of conduct is integrity. Every employer is a team member and contributes to our success. Individually and collectively striving to achieve excellence in everything we do. Treating each other and our clients with respect and dignity. Citizenship—A commitment to the communities in which we live and work. Realize the value in actively recruiting, developing, and mentoring talented individuals of diverse cultures and backgrounds. Profitability—Drives our ability to invest, improve, and succeed.
Then in 1976, Rockefeller Center Inc. acquired Cushman & Wakefield from RCA. Rockefeller Center Inc. owned and operated the sizable Rockefeller Center complex in Manhattan where RCA had its headquarters. The company itself was owned by a family trust set up by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (the Standard Oil heir who built the landmark center between 1931 and 1940 on three city blocks), for his five sons, including U.S. Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller. Although no reasons were given publicly for RCA’s sale of Cushman & Wakefield, industry analysts noted that as one of the nation’s largest leasing and management agents of commercial real estate, the operations of Cushman & Wakefield aligned more closely with the long-term plans of Rockefeller Center than with the electronically oriented RCA. In addition, in its 1975 annual report RCA contended that high energy costs, the economic recession, an overabundance of office space on the rental market, the New York City fiscal crisis, and the reevaluation of real estate investments “adversely affected” Cushman & Wakefield’s operating results.
Rockefeller Center planned to allow the newly acquired Cushman & Wakefield to continue operations separately and under its existing management. The Peters brothers, by this time in top positions and shareholders, retained their offices under RCA ownership. Shortly after the Rockefeller Center purchase, Vincent Peters became president and CEO; Anthony Peters succeeded their eldest brother, Leone Peters, as chairman; and Leone Peters was named honorary chairman in addition to continuing as a director and serving as a real estate consultant to the new parent company. During this time, a new generation, brothers John and Lou Cushman, grandsons of Clyde Cushman, left to form their own business called Cushman Realty Corporation.
In the early 1980s the company underwent further changes in top management. In November 1981 Vincent Peters became chairman and was succeeded as president by Stephen Siegel. The following spring, in May 1982, Vincent Peters chose to resign to start his own business. Siegel then assumed the additional titles of CEO and COO, while the chairmanship remained vacant. Barely two and a half years later, in November 1984, Siegel was appointed to the long-vacant post of chairman, and Arthur J. Mirante II moved from his positions as executive vice-president and New York area regional director to become president and CEO. Siegel’s tenure with Cushman & Wakefield began in 1961 when he was only 17. He was appointed northeast regional director of the firm in 1980 and elected to the board the same year. As the newly appointed chairman, Siegel maintained involvement in long-range planning, which at the time encompassed further international and domestic expansion. Mirante began employment with the firm in 1971 after leaving private law practice. In his new role as president and CEO, he would oversee day-to-day operations.
As a Rockefeller Group company, Cushman & Wakefield grew considerably in the 1980s as a full-service real estate unit with more than 40 offices located throughout the United States. In 1983, the company added financial services operations. According to Siegel, during his time as president and CEO profit spiked more than 100 percent and revenue increased 50 percent. Early in 1984 Cushman & Wakefield made its first move into the international market, through a joint venture with a Hong Kong real estate firm.
- J. Clydesdale Cushman and Bernard Wake-field found Cushman & Wakefield as a property management company in New York City.
- The company establishes a branch office in the city’s financial district and acts as leasing agent for rental space in the 48-story building.
- Cushman & Wakefield becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of RCA Corporation.
- The firm is acquired by The Rockefeller Group.
- Company enters into a partnership with Mitsubishi Trust & Banking to invest Japanese funds into U.S. commercial property.
- Mitsubishi Estate Company Ltd. becomes a majority shareholder in the Rockefeller Group.
- A merger with Healey & Baker, a 178-year-old London-based real estate company, is completed.
- Stiles & Riabokobylko, Russia’s leading real estate services provider, is acquired.
- Canadian affiliate Royal LePage Commercial Inc. is acquired, becoming Cushman & Wakefield LePage.
- IFIL Investments S.p.A. becomes the controlling shareholder of Cushman & Wakefield.
Also in 1984, Cushman & Wakefield entered into an innovative partnership with Mitsubishi Trust & Banking Corporation, the Tokyo-based financial services giant, set up to invest Japanese funds into U.S. commercial property. The partnership, finalized in June, called for Cushman & Wakefield to locate properties that Mitsubishi Trust or its clients might like to buy. The role of Mitsubishi Trust entailed raising capital in Japan for direct real estate investment in the United States. Into the mid-1980s Japanese companies, including life insurance companies, construction companies, and hotel developers, were increasingly involved in multimillion-dollar deals as major buyers of U.S. real estate. Further expansion in Canada, beyond the firm’s existing office in Calgary, Alberta, also was in the works. After taking on the role of chairman, Siegel announced plans for expansion into Europe by forming a joint venture with a real estate company in London or Paris.
Cushman & Wakefield weathered a downturn in the commercial real estate market aggravated by a proposed Senate tax overhaul bill in 1986 that would curb the use of many tax deductions then allowed for owners of commercial property. Some major companies postponed planned purchases and the leasing market in Manhattan also declined as a trend toward moving offices out of the area developed. Following the stock market crash in October 1987, Cushman & Wakefield noted a 25 percent drop in the total of new signed commercial real estate leases below the level in September. In December 1987, however, the company was chosen over many interested competitors by the MacArthur Foundation to market approximately 18,000 of the foundation’s 46,000 acres in Florida, or an area bigger than Manhattan Island. Industry observers valued the land, mostly in northern Palm Beach County, at a minimum of $500 million, and possibly much more. Cushman & Wakefield envisioned developing the property for a mix of commercial and residential use.
In 1989, the Rockefeller Group’s position in commercial real estate was bolstered significantly when Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd., one of the largest real estate companies in the world, became its majority shareholder. Mitsubishi Estate agreed to pay $846 million to acquire a 51 percent stake in the Rockefeller Group.
GLOBAL EXPANSION AT THE CLOSE OF THE CENTURY
As the close of the 20th century neared, Cushman & Wakefield enjoyed dominance as a market leader in all areas of its operations, including office and industrial brokerage, financial services, advisory services, asset services, corporate services, valuation advisory services, and research services. By 1999 the company had 52 U.S. offices and operated 144 international offices through Cushman & Wakefield Worldwide in Asia, Canada, Europe, Mexico, the Middle East, South Africa, and South America. President and CEO Arthur J. Mirante II fostered further worldwide expansion for Cushman & Wakefield in the 1990s. The volume of business conducted overseas grew steadily and, by the end of the decade, it was estimated that international transactions accounted for nearly 25 percent of company revenue. In September 1998, the firm announced a merger with Healey & Baker, a 178-year-old London-based real estate company. Valued at $112 million, and one of the largest mergers of real estate services firms in history, the deal followed an eight-year joint initiative undertaken by the two firms and fully integrated their capabilities in the United States, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Healey & Baker would retain its name and be responsible for business in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Cushman & Wakefield, with its world headquarters in New York City, would capitalize expansion of the business. Of its investment of $112 million to fund the merger, 35 percent was used by Healey & Baker to purchase shares in Cushman & Wakefield Worldwide. Also in 1998, a strategic partnership was formed with Royal LePage Ltd. of Canada. Cushman & Wakefield’s Hong Kong-based joint venture changed its name from Marlin Land to Cushman & Wakefield Asia as part of a dedication to expansion of the firm’s Asian presence, which culminated in the opening of eight new offices in the region in 1997–98. Cushman & Wakefield Asia’s shareholders included Cushman & Wakefield and Healey & Baker.
SOLID POSITIONING FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
After more than a decade of emphasis on global expansion to meet the real estate needs of its many multinational clients, and having established itself as a preeminent international real estate services provider, Cushman & Wakefield entered the 21st century with an eye toward strengthening its corporate structure and U.S. business network of services. Bruce E. Mosler, U.S. president of operations, set out to extend the firm’s services into new U.S. markets. One of the most significant moves toward enhancing the firm’s presence in the western and southwestern United States came with the merger in 2001 of Cushman & Wakefield with Cushman Realty Corporation. The merger also signaled the return of Cushman Realty founders John Cushman III and his twin brother Louis Cushman to the firm originally founded in 1917 by their grandfather, Clyde Cushman, and great-uncle, Bernard Wakefield. Representative of the family’s sixth generation to work in real estate, John Cushman III became Cushman & Wakefield’s chairman of the board and his brother Louis became vice-chairman.
The following year the Cushman & Wakefield Alliance program was formed to connect with independent real estate companies in strategic U.S. markets. Alliance firms were contracted and branded with Cushman & Wakefield as a “Member of the Cushman & Wakefield Alliance.” The program was designed to benefit all involved and to create new channels for Cushman & Wakefield’s range of fully integrated real estate services. Further evidence of the firm’s interest in aligning its services in new ways was the establishment, in 2003, of a marketing alliance with Concordis Real Estate, a corporation wholly owned by ten independent minority-and women-owned U.S. real estate firms.
Also during the early 2000s, Cushman & Wakefield pursued further growth and development of its services on the international front, including: taking full control of its operation in Mexico from partner Groupo Accion in 2004; acquiring its Russian affiliate, Stiles & Riabokobylko, a leader in that market in late 2004; acquiring longtime Canadian affiliate and market leader Royal LePage Commercial Inc. (becoming Cushman & Wakefield LePage) in 2005; opening an office in Romania in early 2007 following its acquisition of AC-TIV Consulting; announcing the spring 2007 opening of an office in Helsinki, Finland; and continuing aggressive expansion in India, China, and throughout Asia.
On January 1, 2005, U.S. Operations President Bruce E. Mosler succeeded Arthur J. Mirante II as Cushman & Wakefield’s president and CEO. The 46-year-old Mosler became the firm’s sixth CEO in 87 years, having worked his way up the corporate ladder since joining the firm in 1997 as an executive vice-president. He inherited the world’s largest privately held real estate services firm, with 164 offices in 49 countries, 11,000 employees, and annual revenues in excess of $900 million. In his new capacity, Mosler planned to grow the company’s mortgage brokerage business, broaden investment sales capabilities across all property types (such as hotel investment sales, as evidenced by the firm’s launch in 2004 of a hotel transactions group), and promote racial diversity within the real estate industry (per its alliance with Concordis Real Estate, for example). The firm’s Fast Forward growth strategy was launched in 2005 to shape its business activities toward implementation of these goals.
A switch in the ownership of Cushman & Wake-field occurred in January 2007, when IFIL Investments S.p.A., a holding company owned by Italy’s Agnelli family, which controlled automaker Fiat S.p.A., agreed to pay $563 million for a 67.5 percent stake. Under the deal, IFIL replaced Rockefeller Group as the controlling shareholder of the privately held firm, and up to 32.5 percent of the firm’s equity was retained by management and employees. Cushman & Wakefield’s existing management personnel, including CEO Bruce Mosler, remained in place. Continuity in strategy to pursue future growth and development objectives also remained, given IFIL’s proven record of support for management teams of its portfolio companies. In particular, with its Fast Forward plan, Cushman & Wakefield was focused on expansion of business in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region with the goal of generating 50 percent of its revenues from outside the United States by 2011, in addition to increasing its activity in the investment services sector. Opportunities for growth in the United States were acknowledged as well; of the $23 billion U.S. commercial property services market, only 14 percent was controlled by the top five global real estate service providers, including Cushman & Wakefield. Entering the final decade toward its 100th anniversary, Cushman & Wakefield employed 11,000-plus professionals in some 200 offices situated in about 60 countries on six continents.
CB Richard Ellis; Grubb & Ellis; Trammell Crow Company.
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