union

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An anonymous industry source, who is not involved in thepotential deal, tells GlobeSt.com that the talk of this particularmerger is "pretty strong," and came as no surprise. "Lots of peopleare hearing the same thing and we are hearing it loud and clear,"the source says. The source says that all the big players arealways talking about consolidating their platform to make itstronger.

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[IMGCAP(2)]Colliers did not return GlobeSt.com queries bydeadline for confirmation or further comment. GVA Williams did notreturn GlobeSt.com queries by deadline for confirmation or furthercomment, however in a prepared statement by GVA Williams' CEORobert Freedman, he says that "in order to provide our local,national and international clients with best-of-class services, GVAWilliams routinely explores ways to grow our business. To dootherwise would be a disservice to our shareholders, employees andclients." The statement continues that "it is our policy todisclose details of business deals only at their successfulconclusion and not to address speculation and rumors."

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The attraction of GVA Williams to Colliers is most likely thatit has a national platform, the source says. "The overallmotivation is difficult to understand, but in New York, GVA is abetter fit for Colliers platform." Abrams Benisch & Riker, theManhattan affiliate of Colliers International, otherwise known asColliers ABR, is the big question, the source says. "I have no ideawhat would happen to ABR."

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GVA Williams does export a lot of corporate business, that isnot Colliers ABR's motivation, the source says. "The way ColliersInternational works is that ABR is a franchisee and there is noownership link, so it would stand on its own in New York."

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The source points out that with firms such as with Staubach,there is a clear identity, but that is not the case with these twofirms. "We have seen this type of thing cross all professions," thesource says. "You have to be known and be big at what you do…it isdifficult to be in the middle." The source continues that these twofirms are alike in some sense; they both have a cultural identitythat isn't really known, therefore it is difficult to dominate intoday's market. "This is more of a story of a merger between twomid-sized companies."

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Consolidation isn't necessarily a good thing for tenants, and italso is not a given that a merger will be a good thing for thecompanies merging, or that it will make them better; "there is noguarantee.

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"Colliers needs a better platform that feeds the Colliersnetwork and the Williams brokerage part can do that," the sourcesays. There will probably be some restructuring within GVA as wellas Colliers. "The Williams part of GVA will most likely be split tothe ownership/family side and the other part being brokerage," thesource says.

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Hugh Finnegan, an attorney in the real estate group at Sullivan& Worcester LLP, who is not involved in the potential deal,tells GlobeSt.com that a merger such as this combination is part ofa trend of combining forces and broadening the spectrum of realestate pieces. Strong groups are combining to make stronger groupsand so on, he says.

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Finnegan says that these types of mergers might not be widelyembraced internally. "The broker culture makes integrationdifficult, particularly in a city where offices that competed witheach other last week are now supposed to support each other," hesays. Finnegan explains that he does notice some desirability forindustry consolidation. "There is some trend towardconsolidation--for example, the Cushman &Wakefield/Sonnenblick-Goldman. The one-stop shopping andglobal reach concepts are colliding."

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Although Finnegan does not know who might be next up to themerger plate, he says that the number of choices for tenants tolook to gets reduced after mergers. "The tenants are adverselyimpacted," he says, "especially the smaller tenants."

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Finnegan says that JLL/Staubach or GVA/Colliers-type unions are"like law firm mergers, which really are acquisitions of rainmakersand not mergers." He notes that when companies look to merge withother companies, "the attraction would need to be complementarypractice areas so the diversity of skills makes the new firm moreattractive to their clients."

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Natalie Dolce

Natalie Dolce, editor-in-chief of GlobeSt.com and GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum, is responsible for working with editorial staff, freelancers and senior management to help plan the overarching vision that encompasses GlobeSt.com, including short-term and long-term goals for the website, how content integrates through the company’s other product lines and the overall quality of content. Previously she served as national executive editor and editor of the West Coast region for GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum, and was responsible for coverage of news and information pertaining to that vital real estate region. Prior to moving out to the Southern California office, she was Northeast bureau chief, covering New York City for GlobeSt.com. Her background includes a stint at InStyle Magazine, and as managing editor with New York Press, an alternative weekly New York City paper. In her career, she has also covered a variety of beats for M magazine, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, FashionLedge.com, and Co-Ed magazine. Dolce has also freelanced for a number of publications, including MSNBC.com and Museums New York magazine.