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NEW YORK CITY-Cushman & Wakefield, in its constant hunt to broaden its service lines, might be about to push out once again. Sources are telling GlobeSt.com that the firm is in talks with Chicago-based money source Cohen Financial, and a buy or strategic partnership could be in place by the end of the year.

“They want to compete with CB Richard Ellis, Holliday Fenoglio, Eastdil and Secured,” one insider tells GlobeSt.com. “With an in-house financing capability, they become a one-stop shop.”

While no specific numbers were put to a potential acquisition, sources explain that the going rate these days is a four or five multiple of NOI, paid out in equal parts of stock and cash. Those multiples could rise based on the buyer’s hunger for the perks the acquisition would bring–such as specific market penetration. Merger deals these days typically also include a three-year “tie-up” of senior executives.

There has also been some speculation that the merger target may in fact be HFF. But while the platform is broader, the cultural fit, sources conjecture, is simply not there.

But as could be expected, C&W people refused to comment on a potential merger or even if talks are under way, and Cohen Financial CEO Jack Cohen flatly denies that he’s considering selling to C&W.

“But I like the quality of the rumor,” he says. “I’ve been reasonably upfront and vocal about finding a strategic partner to turbo-charge our platform. But the reality is that we do not have anything going on with Cushman other than some co-marketing opportunities with our investment-sales business, and we might expand that. But, as opposed to what you’re hearing, Cohen Financial is not for sale.”

He does add, however, that he is “evaluating opportunities and that a number of discussions are going on,” although, again, none with C&W. Those opportunities could include a strategic partnership or sale of “a minority interest” in the business. Whatever opportunity ultimately rises to the top, “I hope to have the damned thing resolved by the end of the year,” Cohen concludes.

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