The founder of Chicago-based tenant representation firm Equis Corp. says he will continue to run the company after he sells the business to Australia-based United Group Limited (ASX: UGL) for approximately $120 million later this year.
“It’s an accounting acquisition, and the management will be run as it’s always been, with the same regional management teams,” says Michael Silver, Equis’ president. The sellers are Silver and a family trust. “This is Equis brand-building, all over the world.”
Equis is already a global real estate company with a staff of 400 employees and 38 company-owned offices, including 10 overseas. United Group, on the other hand, is a diversified services company specializing in maintenance, facilities management, manufacturing, fabrication, engineering, construction and business process outsourcing. United operates in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Europe, with annual revenue of nearly $1.7 billion.
Equis will expand its international reach through the deal by integrating United Group’s property management services. Last year, United Group acquired Singapore-based property services company PREMUS, and that company’s operations in key Asian markets will be merged under the larger Equis umbrella.
In addition to the Singapore office, United Group has real estate operations in China and India that will be integrated with Equis’ business units in India, Silver says. All told, the combined real estate services operation will span 13 countries with a staff of 3,300 employees in 85 offices. “This transaction capitalizes on the synergies in the two firms’ areas of expertise and geographic coverage,” Silver says.
Domestically, the deal will increase Equis’ resources through improved back-office support, but won’t immediately grow the company’s U.S. presence because Equis will be United Group’s entry vehicle into the U.S. real estate market. The task of growing the business is in Silver’s court – under terms of the acquisition agreement, the buyers will pay another $12 million if the company meets certain performance goals, he says.
Equis’ financial advisor, UBS Investment Bank, introduced the two companies, Silver says. The two companies share a commitment to offering conflict-free real estate services by representing only space occupiers. That means the companies do not represent third-party investors for leasing or other services.
“We realized that we were both orthodox and devout believers in a non-conflicted real estate services platform,” Silver says.
“We have strengths in real estate advisory, transactional and related services; they have strengths in basic day-to-day outsourcing – facility management, procurement, human resources – the back-office functions of real estate. When brought together, it’s a complete menu of services. It’s unique because it’s non-conflicted, and to our knowledge cannot be replicated in the world.”
The acquisition is expected to close later this year.