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CHICAGO-During a presentation to a client earlier this year, Jack Durburg had a reason to be excited about the pending merger of CB Richard Ellis and Insignia Financial Group. Not only was his company’s top office broker pitching the client, Insignia’s best–No. 1 in the market just ahead of his CB Richard Ellis counterpart–was part of the same leasing presentation.

“The talent we have in both organizations, and the skill sets, is exciting to think about,” Durburg said during a sit-down with GlobeSt.com Wednesday, when the merger was closed. “Our professionals realize we work better together than we do apart. To see them come together and see the client have all that intelligence and deal making experience…”

“The deal’s over,” adds Jeff Barrett.

Barrett, Durburg, Sam Delisi, Gregg Shutan, Todd Caruso and Jim Dieter are managing directors of the Chicago offices of a company that can boast potent deal-making lineups across all sectors and submarkets. The two companies posted a combined $75.5 million in Chicago revenues in 2002 off sales and leasing transactions worth $2.8 billion.

Already holding down established positions in office sales and leasing in the city and suburbs, the combination of CB Richard Ellis and Insignia/ESG now is the top industrial brokerage operation in the market, surpassing long-time leader Rosemont-based Colliers, Bennett & Kahnweiler. Barrett notes the new CB Richard Ellis has 15% of the market’s listings, while Colliers, Bennett & Kahnweiler has 11.6%. The two companies combined for 374 industrial transactions—an average of one per day—last year.

Coming largely from the acquired Insignia/ESG, the new company manages a portfolio of 33.7 million sf.

An advantage to clients will be the market intelligence and research capabilities of a firm that now dwarfs competitors, managing directors say. In addition to staffs of six persons each in Chicago marketing and financial consulting operations, the merged company will have a local seven-member research staff. “Our clients make some very important decisions, and we’re going to have the best research in the business,” Durburg says.

Locally the workforce of the company is now 541, which includes 219 brokers across Downtown and suburban offices. “This really has been so strategic, that there’s so little overlap,” says Durburg, in charge of the Bannockburn offices and sharing oversight with Delisi of the Schaumburg office.

“The market is deeper and larger than both firms realized,” adds Shutan, managing the new firm’s Downtown office. When brokers from both companies shared their prospect lists to identify overlap, the conflicts were minimal, he adds. Instead, both firms realized they were missing nearly half of the potential market.

“Both organizations thought we were covering the market,” adds Delisi, in charge of the new asset services group. “We really have an all-star team now.”<p.Both organizations also posted record first halves, Delisi notes, despite an impending sale that made brokers from both companies targets for competitors. "We really haven't had any significant losses," says Barrett, manager of the Oak Brook office while sharing similar duties in Rosemont with Dieter.

Barrett points to a desire among brokers to be on a “winning team,” but he and his fellow managing directors know they have to deliver the benefits of the merger. “To keep professionals, we have to show them they’ll be making more money than they made before,” Shutan says.

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