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BOSTON-Bringing another major player to the city’s competitive real estate brokerage sector, global CRE advisory firm DTZ has made a $35-million investment with option to purchase FHO Partners. The locally based team of 40 industry professionals broke off on their own last year after Trammell Crow Co. was acquired by CB Richard Ellis.

“We view our FHO transaction as another important step in our strategy to build breadth and depth of local talent within the world’s key financial centers,” DTZ chief executive Mark Struckett says in a release announcing the commitment. The firm last year, for example, expanded into New York City by acquiring Rockwood, and DTZ officials indicate they plan to pursue additional relationships in other US markets going forward.

On the flip side, FHO principal Joseph Fallon says the union with DTZ fulfills his firm’s goal of finding a partner possessing a global platform to help clients needing cross-border services. Colliers International reportedly had pursued FHO soon after Boston’s Trammell Crow team opted to launch its own operation earlier this year, and rumors that DTZ was making a run began circulating once prospects for a Colliers affiliation faded. In assessing the DTZ agreement, Fallon says the arrangement should benefit all phases of FHO’s landlord, tenant and capital markets efforts.

“DTZ is a world-class organization with an excellent reputation for client service, teamwork and integrity,” says Fallon. “We are pleased to become part of the group at this interesting stage of its development.” In addition to its London base, DTZ has a strong presence in most corners of the globe, including Asia and Europe.

The agreement calls for $2 million to secure a preferred interest in FHO Partners together with a $2-million option payment that gives DTZ the right to acquire the entire outstanding interests of the firm between April and May 2008. On exercise of the option, DTZ will pay an additional $18 million, of which $6 million is payable in loan notes convertible to DTZ shares. A further earn-out payment of up to $13 million is payable in 2010 or 2011, of which up to 30% is payable in loan notes convertible to DTZ shares.

The new name of the entity is DTZ FHO Partners. For many members of the local contingent, the re-branding is nothing new. Fallon and colleagues Brian Hines and Charles O’Connor formed their own firm in 1988 with four other partners. That entity, Fallon Hines & O’Connor, was then sold to Trammell Crow in 1998.

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