Grubb & Ellis sale could bolster Apex Commercial

New York-based BGC Partners Inc., a global intermediary to the wholesale financial markets, recently acquired Santa Ana, Calf.-based commercial real estate advisory firm Grubb & Ellis in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

BGC also acquired New York-based real estate services firm Newmark Knight Frank, in October, which will be combined with Grubb & Ellis to form Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.

“Our integrated real estate businesses (will) bring together an extraordinary team of best-in-class brokers, property management, facilities management and appraisal executives and their staff,” said Michael Lehrman, global head of real estate at BGC.

The mergers will result in a new name, logo and affiliation for Brookfield-based Grubb & Ellis|Apex Commercial. But the biggest change could be an increased emphasis on corporate services, said Dan Jessup, president of Grubb & Ellis|Apex Commercial.

“I believe Newmark Knight Frank is much more sophisticated in corporate services than Grubb,” Jessup said. “I believe this will bode well for us with national assignments seeking local expertise.”

Commercial real estate brokerage firms like Apex are increasingly being asked to provide corporate services, beyond just brokerage services, Jessup said. Corporate services include appraisal, lease analysis, property management, asset management and real estate brokerage.

“It’s my belief that commercial real estate is turning more toward corporate services,” Jessup said.

Apex Commercial will also benefit from a stronger affiliation than it had with the declining Grubb & Ellis.

“Grubb & Ellis was experiencing a cash flow issue for the last year,” Jessup said. “(BGC’s) financial position is very strong. They’re very deep. We believe BCG’s acquisition of Grubb & Ellis will only strengthen our position in the market. The company is committed to its brokers, has a strong capital base and exceptional proprietary technology. We can offer more to our clients.”

The blending of Grubb & Ellis and Newmark Knight Frank will likely take several months to integrate and has just begun.

“It’s premature to tell what approach they are going to take,” Jessup said. “Corporate is working hard to provide us the new logo, etc. as quickly as possible.”

But the combination of two strong brands, Grubb & Ellis and Newmark Knight Frank, will strengthen both, he said.

Apex Commercial does not expect the affiliation change to impact its staffing levels, Jessup said. However, the firm plans to add another broker by the end of this month, which will give the firm nine brokers.

“We’ve had a great year,” Jessup said.

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