Toronto-based Avison Young has closed the acquisition of U.K.-based GVA. The two companies are now combined under the Avison Young banner.

The acquisition establishes Avison Young as the only privately held, principal-led, global, full-service commercial real estate services firm. The combination also establishes Avison Young among the top five commercial real estate advisory businesses in the U.K., the company says.



Avison Young principal and U.K managing director Jason Sibthorpe becomes principal and president, U.K.; GVA CEO Gerry Hughes becomes principal and managing director, U.K. and managing director, global consultancy; and GVA chair Andy Mottram becomes principal and managing director, Europe.

As a result of the transaction, Avison Young now has approximately 5,000 real estate professionals in 120 offices in 20 countries. Avison Young adds offices in the United Kingdom (London, Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Maidenhead, Manchester, Newcastle); Austria (Vienna); Bulgaria (Sofia); China (Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai); Croatia (Zagreb); France (Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Paris); Greece (Athens, Thessaloniki); Italy (Milan, Rome); Norway (Oslo); Poland (Warsaw); Republic of Ireland (Dublin); Romania (Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara); Russia (Moscow); Spain (Madrid); and United Arab Emirates (Dubai).

“This acquisition represents another milestone in our global expansion strategy, and the combination will better position Avison Young to serve our clients across the world,” says Mark E. Rose, chair and CEO, Avison Young. “Furthermore, the acquisition establishes Avison Young as the global, disruptive challenger brand. We are now 5,000 strong, having nearly doubled our size and ability to provide clients with whatever they need, wherever in the world they need it. In GVA, Avison Young has added a like-minded U.K. real estate leader – a company that brings a partnership culture formed during more than 200 years in business.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. As a result of the merger, Avison Young increases its revenue to 25 times its 2008 level to approximately C$1 billion, the company says.

The acquisition includes GVA Worldwide, an international organization of licensed affiliate commercial real estate advisory companies with offices in 20 countries. GVA has 1,500 employees in 15 offices in the U.K., Ireland and Poland alone, and is a founding member and majority shareholder of GVA Worldwide.

The company says that in connection with the transaction, Avison Young has optimized its capital structure through a recapitalization. The acquisition and the refinancing have been funded through a combination of cash on hand, committed financing from Credit Suisse, CIBC and BofA Merrill Lynch and additional common equity, including participation by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ).

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