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Platform Shifts Run Through Broker Sphere

Grubb & Ellis’ 5-year marriage to London-based partner Knight Frank ended last week after new Grubb CEO Mark Rose severed the global partnership. It will formally end on Dec. 31.

Not to undone, Knight Frank hit the ground running. Manhattan-based real estate brokerage Newmark & Co. promptly announced the same day that it would become Knight Frank’s U.S. partner, beginning next year.

“The alliance with Knight Frank has served us well over the past five years. Since I was named CEO in March, we have spent a considerable amount of time assessing our client centric global delivery strategy and the best way to expand our global coverage,” says Mark Rose, chief executive officer at Grubb & Ellis.

“We believe our clients will be best served by a more comprehensive global service platform that is structured to take advantage of global corporate outsourcing and capital flows.”

What’s unclear is how Grubb & Ellis aims to cover the global markets it previously tapped through Knight Frank. According to the Knight Frank website, the firm affiliates with sister brokerages in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. It’s also unclear if the motivation to dissolve the partnership originated from Grubb & Ellis or Knight Frank. The break strongly suggests that new CEO Mark Rose is mapping out a new strategic direction for the firm, however.

The outcome clearly benefits Newmark, a Manhattan-based brokerage with scrappy ties outside New York City and the U.S. Newmark will be called Newmark Knight Frank beginning January 1, 2006, when its global network through Knight Frank will be formally introduced.

On other brokerage fronts: Cushman & Wakefield, the closely-held commercial real estate brokerage, bought its Canadian affiliate, Royal Le Page, in a $55 million deal yesterday. Cushman already worked with Le Page on an affiliate basis, but the U.S. brokerage hailed the move as increasing their foothold in major Canadian markets such as Toronto.

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