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DUBLIN, IRELAND-Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. agreed to acquire all of the remaining outstanding shares of its 10%-owned affiliate here, CB Richard Ellis Gunne, for $24.6 million. The companies had established a relationship in the mid 1990s and the affiliate relationship was forged in 1999.

“It’s the natural progression,” explains Mike Strong, president of CBRE in Europe, Middle East and Africa. When the relationship started, Strong says, “we recognized the importance of Ireland and how important it was to have representation here.”

In fact, with a domestic economy growing at more than 5% per year, Ireland has one of the healthiest leasing and investment markets in Europe. Irish investors are among the most active in Europe, having acquired nearly $6 billion of property in the 15 European Union countries in 2004, according to CB Richard Ellis Gunne research.

“The vast majority of capital is invested outside of Ireland,” adds Pat Gunne, who will continue as managing director of the company’s Irish business, which will now operate as CB Richard Ellis. He says Irish investors are very familiar with the US markets including New York City, Boston, Chicago and Washington, DC and look for CBE office blocks and high-quality, high-profile retail.

Gunne employs 105 in offices here and in Belfast. The firm provides a full range of real estate advisory services including investment sales and acquisitions, development advisory, property leasing, hotels, building consulting, research and global corporate services. CBRE will not acquire Gunne’s residential operations.

“Taking full ownership of CB Richard Ellis Gunne fits well with our growth strategy in Europe,” notes Brett White, president and CEO of CBRE. “The Gunne operation represents a solid foundation from which we expect to continue capturing a significant share of the commercial real estate activity that is emanating from that country, fueled by its strong economy.”

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