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NEW YORK CITY-Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis is apparently offering shelter to a group of consultants from scandal-torn Arthur Andersen, adding to the list of Andersen refugees finding safe haven in other harbors. But industry sources tell GlobeSt.com that CBRE was the port of last resort for the at-sea consulting team, which, they say, has been turned away from virtually every major brokerage house since Andersen’s legal woes began.

“These guys have been shopping themselves for two months, and they’ve been turned down by everyone,” the source tells GlobeSt.com. He mentions Ernst & Young, Grubb & Ellis and Cushman & Wakefield as initial targets for their spurned advances.

While Cushman & Wakefield insiders tell GlobeSt.com that they have heard of no such advances, Barry Barovick, president and CEO of Grubb & Ellis, says the band of refugees came to Grubb first. “We said no,” Barovick tells GlobeSt.com. “They are not the right people for what we need to do.”

The irony here comes in CBRE’s recent bid to buy Grubb & Ellis, a move that was shot down when–as Barovick stated at the time–Grubb officials came to realize that CBRE “did not share our vision regarding the industry in general, and our integrated business model in particular. We have loyalty to our vision, and they were looking only at our transaction capabilities, not our consulting or our management and certainly not our integrated strategy.”

While Barovick would not go into detail about his thoughts on the alleged CBRE hirings, another highly placed Grubb executive did, on the condition of anonymity: “Do you know what it tells me? It tells me that CB is now looking for consulting. Ray Wirta did say that CB was three years behind us and there was no way they could catch up.” The reference to Wirta was the closest any Grubb executive has come to acknowledging what the industry as a whole knew–that it was in fact CBRE that attempted to buy the New York City-based firm. Wirta is CBRE’s chief executive.

Top CBRE officials were mum on the development of a corporate consulting practice, and CBRE’s recently appointed president of global corporate services Steven A. Swerdlow, would not return phone calls. A company spokesperson would only say that “our position is quite simply that we are not commenting on market rumors.” While sources put the number of Andersen refugees at “seven or eight,” specific numbers could not be confirmed. Neither have any names been revealed.

But in a February memo obtained by GlobeSt.com, Manhattan-based Swerdlow outlined the structure of the department as he sees it: It has “two components: One is global outsourcing services, and one is advisory and transaction services. “

A source familiar with the CBRE strategy tells GlobeSt.com that while he has not heard of any new hires, he did in fact know that CBRE was in the process of growing the corporate outsourcing initiative.

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