Commercial realtor Avison Young will buy large U.K.-based rival GVA, in a deal that helps double the Canadian company’s size and give it a significant presence in one of the world’s top property markets.
The acquisition will add 1,500 real estate professionals in 15 offices throughout Britain, Ireland and Poland, as well as affiliated offices in other parts of Europe and Asia.
“We have gone global in one transaction," Avison’s chief executive Mark Rose said.
The addition of GVA’s operations bumps up Avison’s annual revenue to $1-billion from $650-million, allowing the Toronto-based company to compete more globally with the world’s three largest commercial realtors: CBRE Group, Jones Lang LaSalle and Cushman & Wakefield.
Known for project development, GVA is a 200-year-old firm that provides the full suite of commercial real estate services from leasing and property management to valuation and appraisals.
The acquisition, expected to close early next year, builds on the financial partnership between Avison and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.
Over the summer, the Canadian pension fund provided Avison with $250-million to expand outside of North America. In addition to those funds, the Caisse helped out with this deal. Mr. Rose would not provide the total cost of the GVA purchase, citing confidentiality reasons.
The acquisition helps establish Avison as a global player by boosting its presence in Britain, considered one of the world’s top commercial real estate markets.
“There are two places that house the most decision makers and the largest amount of real estate. [They are] New York and the U.K. Those are your launching pads to the rest of the world,” Mr. Rose said.
When Avison announced the Caisse partnership in July, Mr. Rose said the company’s goal was to double its staff to 5,000 real estate professionals. Now, Mr. Rose plans to double revenue and staff to 10,000 employees.
“The new goals that have to be in place as of today is we have a clear path to getting the company to $2-billion in revenue,” he said.
Since Avison Young was established in 2008 through the merger of several small Canadian commercial realtors, it has made upward of 35 acquisitions. Most recently, it opened an office in London with capital from the Caisse’s investment, as well as its first office in Seoul.
The privately held Avison is now one of five major commercial realtors in Canada that work in all parts of the industry, including leasing and sales.
Mr. Rose said Avison has $1-billion to spend on acquisitions and has set his sights on Asia for the next big deal.
“The big, big push comes in Asia, particularly to add offices in India and [mainland] China and Hong Kong,” he said.