Two of CB Richard Ellis’ strongest sales brokers are jumping ship to Cushman & Wakefield only days after another key CBRE broker, Woody Heller, defected to tenant rep firm Studley.

Richard Baxter and Ron Cohen will join Cushman this week, say two industry sources. Baxter and Cohen are well-known Manhattan investment sales brokers who worked for Insignia/ESG’s capital advisors group before July’s merger. After the merger, many Manhattan brokerage sources believed that the Baxter/Cohen team would remain at CBRE.

Yet since the merger closed, Insignia’s capital advisors group has been decimated by staff losses. Sources blame the attrition on the fact that CBRE’s top sales brokers — Darcy Stacom and Bill Shanahan — have a freehold on all Manhattan sales assignments under their CBRE contracts. Both Shanahan and Stacom worked for many years at Cushman & Wakefield prior to joining CBRE last year. But the Shanahan-Stacom arrangement apparently didn’t jibe with brokers such as Heller, Baxter and Cohen, who were top of the heap at Insignia.

This could pose a problem for CBRE, because it’s possible that these three brokers will take their clientele with them, giving Studley and Cushman added ammo in their battle for market share against mega-brokerage CBRE.

Neither CBRE nor Cushman & Wakefield offered to comment on the soon-to-be-done deal.