CRE N Illinois

JLL acquires HFF in bid to bolster capital markets business

JLL acquires HFF in bid to bolster capital markets business,ph1

Chicago-based JLL will acquire all the outstanding shares of HFF in a cash and stock transaction with an equity value of approximately $2 billion. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

HFF is one of the largest and most successful commercial real estate capital markets intermediaries in the U.S. Since 1998, HFF has closed more than $800 billion in over 27,000 transactions, achieving record revenue in 2018 of more than $650 million. Mark Gibson, CEO of HFF, will join JLL as CEO, capital markets, Americas and co-chair of its global capital markets board.

“Increasing the scale of our capital markets business is one of the key priorities in our ‘beyond’ strategic vision to drive long-term sustainable and profitable growth. The combination with HFF provides a unique opportunity to accelerate growth and establish JLL as a leading capital markets intermediary, with outstanding capabilities,” said Christian Ulbrich, global CEO of JLL. “We have long admired HFF for its expertise and leading reputation in the industry, as well as its client-first culture of teamwork, ethics and excellence, which aligns with our own. I believe that combining our organizations will deliver a range of compelling benefits for our clients, employees and shareholders.”

Under the terms of the agreement, HFF shareholders will receive $24.63 in cash and 0.1505 JLL shares for each HFF share. Based on the closing price of JLL stock of $163.02 on March 18, 2019, the cash and stock consideration to be received by HFF shareholders at closing is valued at $49.16 per HFF share—a premium of approximately 22 percent and 25 percent compared to the volume-weighted average price of HFF over 60 and 90 trading days, respectively, and a premium of approximately 6 percent over the closing stock price on March 18, 2019 (before the positive impact of the $1.75 per share special dividend declared on January 31, 2019 and paid on February 27, 2019).

Upon closing of the transaction, JLL shareholders are expected to own approximately 87 percent of the combined company, and HFF shareholders are expected to own approximately 13 percent. All seven executive committee members of HFF have agreed to vote their shares, representing 3 percent ownership of HFF, in favor of the transaction. Key HFF senior leaders and capital markets advisors have entered into 3- to 4-year commitments related to employment, non-competition and/or retention. Finally, JLL anticipates adding one of HFF’s existing directors to JLL’s board of directors effective as of the closing of the transaction.

“This is a terrific transaction for our shareholders, providing them with an immediate cash payment and the opportunity to participate in the long-term value of the combined company,” said Gibson. “In addition, we believe the combination with JLL will create a superior platform for our shareholders, clients and employees than either company would have independent of the other and will significantly accelerate our firm’s strategic plan. JLL’s team-oriented culture with the additional standards of high character and integrity are an excellent match with the HFF culture, which has been HFF’s fundamental differentiator since its inception.”

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019, subject to HFF shareholder approval and customary closing conditions, including regulatory review. The transaction is not contingent upon receipt of financing. JP Morgan is serving as exclusive financial advisor for JLL, and Sidley Austin LLP as legal counsel. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC is acting as exclusive financial advisor for HFF, and Dechert LLP as legal counsel.

JLL intends to fund the cash portion of the purchase price consideration with a combination of cash reserves and its existing syndicated credit facility. The combination is expected to deliver significant run-rate synergies, estimated at approximately $60 million over two to three years.