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Jones Lang LaSalle Buys King Sturge To Boost European Exposure

By Michael Haddon Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Jones Lang LaSalle Inc (JLL) said Friday it had agreed to buy London-based property services company King Sturge for GBP197 million ($319 million) in a deal that will make it market-leader in the U.K. and continental Europe. JLL, the world's second-largest publicly traded real-estate broker, said the merger will give it a greater strength and depth of service across Europe that will benefit the clients of both companies. "The obvious strategic and cultural fit between Jones Lang LaSalle and King Sturge makes this a logical and very attractive proposition for both firms," said Christian Ulbrich, JLL's chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "It gives us a scale and depth of expertise that will make our client service delivery capabilities second to none in both the U.K. and continental Europe," he added. JLL said the rebranding of all 43 of King Sturge's offices and businesses across Europe, including 24 in the U.K., will begin immediately. "This is a coming together of two great companies who are culturally aligned, with fantastic business synergies, to create the best firm of property advisers in Europe," said Richard Batten, joint senior partner at King Sturge. JLL said it will pay GBP98 million in cash to the partners of King Sturge at closing, which is expected May 31, with the balance paid in cash over five years. JLL said the merged business will operate in 30 countries and employ 5,300 people across the EMEA region, while the U.K. business will have 2,700 employees across 34 offices. JLL shares closed Thursday at $93.12, giving the company a market capitalization just under $4 billion. The stock has gained 11% since the start of 2011. JLL provides help with sales, leasing and management of commercial properties. The deal is another example of consolidation in the sector with major players looking to expand as the global real-estate industry recovers. French property company Saint George Participations earlier this month said it was in talks to make a possible bid for commercial property advisor DTZ Holdings PLC (DTZ.LN). SGP said it was in discussions with BNP Paribas SA (BNP.FR) "in relation to this matter," with speculation the French banking giant is looking to merge DTZ with its property services arm, BNP Paribas Real Estate. CB Richard Ellis Inc. (CBG) agreed to purchase the lion's share of the real-estate-investment-management business of Dutch financial group ING Groep NV (ING) in February. The all-cash transaction, valued at $940 million, made CBRE the world's largest publicly traded real estate broker. -By Michael Haddon, Dow Jones Newswires; 4420-7842-9289; michael.haddon@dowjones.com

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