"They want to compete with CB Richard Ellis, Holliday Fenoglio,Eastdil and Secured," one insider tells GlobeSt.com. "With anin-house financing capability, they become a one-stop shop."

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While no specific numbers were put to a potential acquisition,sources explain that the going rate these days is a four or fivemultiple of NOI, paid out in equal parts of stock and cash. Thosemultiples could rise based on the buyer's hunger for the perks theacquisition would bring—such as specific market penetration. Mergerdeals these days typically also include a three-year "tie-up" ofsenior executives.

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There has also been some speculation that the merger target mayin fact be HFF. But while the platform is broader, the culturalfit, sources conjecture, is simply not there.

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But as could be expected, C&W people refused to comment on apotential merger or even if talks are underway, and Cohen FinancialCEO Jack Cohen flatly denies that he's considering selling toC&W.

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"But I like the quality of the rumor," he says. "I've beenreasonably upfront and vocal about finding a strategic partner toturbo-charge our platform. But the reality is that we do not haveanything going on with Cushman other than some co-marketingopportunities with our investment-sales business, and we mightexpand that. But, as opposed to what you're hearing, CohenFinancial is not for sale."

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He does add, however, that he is "evaluating opportunities andthat a number of discussions are going on," although, again, nonewith C&W. Those opportunities could include a strategicpartnership or sale of "a minority interest" in the business.Whatever opportunity ultimately rises to the top, "I hope to havethe damned thing resolved by the end of the year," Cohenconcludes.

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John Salustri

John Salustri has covered the commercial real estate industry for nearly 25 years. He was the founding editor of GlobeSt.com, and is a four-time recipient of the Excellence in Journalism award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.