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DALLAS-In a testament to the industry’s mega-merger, CB Richard Ellis’ locally based global corporate services has gone to battle and won a five-year contract to oversee all office and retail space for Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc. Before the year ends, another 100 to 150 retail locations could roll into the bank’s 24-million-sf portfolio.

“The bank really sees this as a great opportunity where the two largest real estate providers in the country will now work together to provide complementary strengths and what we consider to be the best service for our company,” says David Murphy, senior vice president of the nation’s largest thrift. He tells GlobeSt.com that a best and final was under way with Los Angeles-based CBRE, Dallas’ Trammell Crow Co. and Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. when the merger news hit the streets. As a result, WaMu delayed its decision to allow time for the companies to settle into the marriage.

CBRE’s interest in TCC’s global corporate services account wasn’t an industry secret, but the mega-merger delivered a sure-fire win for what could be the largest corporate services account up for renewal this year. CBRE has held the WaMu contract since 1995 after a buyout of the previous titleholder, but it was up against stiff competition before the TCC merger was made public.

WaMu’s new CRE team numbers 460 professionals, a mix of the old and new, in key regional markets in the Pacific Northwest, California, Texas, Florida and New York. The alliance director is John Gallagher, a long-time CBRE point man in Seattle for the WaMu account, who reports to George Williams, the executive accounts leader who hailed from TCC’s legacy camp.

“We’ve kind of expanded our agreement with WaMu,” Williams says. “There are some newly created positions for a regional delivery and functional basis to provide a higher level of customer service and responsiveness to the bank’s needs. It’s the best of the best.”

Murphy says there were contract changes to build in more flexibility for WaMu to bump or shrink the 24-million-sf portfolio and a financial incentive for CBRE to “help the bank gain additional efficiencies.” As would be expected, the perk to perform is under lock and key, but he did say “it’s a really good goal alignment” predicated on key performance indicators.

“It’s a significant contract for CBRE and it’s a fair contract,” Williams stresses. At the helm of the CBRE corporate division are Michael Lafitte, CBRE president of corporate and institutional services, and Diane Paddison, president of global corporate services, both in Dallas.

The corporate accounts division is a top revenue generator much like the bricks-and-mortar of core real estate. And, the mega-merger has provided an unprecedented platform depth “to respond to WaMu’s needs,” Williams says. “It’s a real estate strategy that supports their overall business strategy and it’s our job to execute through that real estate strategy.”

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