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DALLAS-This time out, Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP has dug deep into its senior-level producers’ pockets for the equity and placed some debt on its own behalf to take control from its Sydney-based parent of the last four years.

The headquarters location changes, the name is getting shortened and the corporate leaders will be an eight-member operating committee. Backing the play is an investment group born from the ranks of the firm’s 120 senior producers in the 18-office network, John Pelusi, executive managing director in Pittsburgh, tells For previous story, click here.

Pelusi has been elected as the managing member for the operating committee although he stresses that all investors have equal standing. The committee also includes Stephen Conley in the Washington, DC office; Manny de Zarraga, Miami; John Fowler, Boston; Mark Gibson and Jody Thornton, Dallas; Scott McMullin, Los Angeles; and Whitney Wilcox, New York.

The firm’s headquarters will shift from Dallas to Houston because that’s where COO Nancy Goodson is based. The Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP name holds, but “a shortened version” is being worked up. “We don’t care what people call us,” Pelusi says, tongue in cheek, “we just care that they call us.”

In a more serious vein, Pelusi says the 300-member firm with 18 offices remains intact while a search that began in 1998 for a Northern California alliance will continue. Office leases were mostly under the Holliday Fenoglio Fowler name, save for Chicago which was reassigned prior to the closing. The last 60 days have been spent in getting all papers signed and in order, including a few consents from building owners, so that Tuesday’s management buyout would come off without a hitch. “Lend Lease is 100% out of this deal,” Pelusi stresses of the leases and the debt placement aiding the $10-million buyout.

Pelusi can talk about some things and others are best left couched. He’s not saying how much it cost for a stake in the operation, but the combined equity that helped close the deal was “a lot” with the senior ranks producing a “significant” number of investors. “To do this on a national basis and make it work,” he says, “ownership has to be widely dispersed.”

In-place executives will run offices, but budgets and business plans will now go before the committee which reports to the investment group. Pelusi says the group likes to think of itself as “a flat organization,” with no headquarters except on paper and no one person in charge except as a figurehead. “It’s not about your title,” he stresses, “it’s about how we satisfy and serve the client.”

Pelusi says the signed deal signals a close to several years of struggling through Amresco’s fallout to Lend Lease’s buyout, including the acceptance of Holliday Fenoglio Fowler’s management plan and infusing capital so the investment sales unit could grow. “We’ve been through a lot,” he explains. “Now, we can focus on our clients and not on some of the issues. What is relevant is there is a very good group of people who believe in the same thing and want to stay together.

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