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LONDON-Zurich Financial Services Group has outsourced a six-million-sf [560,000 m2] portfolio with 520 offices in nine countries to CB Richard Ellis, which was up against stiff competition for a virgin opportunity. The deal reflects a trend on Mainland Europe for phased-in outsourcing.

Matthew Pullen, head of CBRE’s Global Corporate Services EMEA, says the Zurich portfolio’s size is definitely in the upper quarter of portfolio assignments in his region of the world. Terms of the transaction management and strategic consulting contract bars CBRE from disclosing many details, but the package is class A office, retail and back-office space in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, the UK and its native land, Switzerland. “The competition was pretty stiff for this,” Pullen says.

Pullen explains that Zurich has become an innovator in its peer group in Mainland Europe by implementing early-generation outsourcing. “It’s fair to say the Mainland Europe market is less mature than the UK and US in outsourcing,” he says, “but there is a rapid movement to centralization of shared services. It’s all about globalization of industries to remain competitive in their industry sectors.” And, it’s the first time that Zurich has put its Mainland portfolio up for grabs.

CBRE holds Zurich’s global data management contract and a secondary position for its North America transaction management and strategic consulting. Chicago-based UGL Equis Corp. has the lead for the North America assignment. Zurich also is entrenched in Latin America and Asia Pacific.

Pullen tells GlobeSt.com that the brokerage team has Zurich’s Asia Pacific portfolio in its scope. To lay the groundwork for a contract expansion, CBRE has relocated associate director Neil Valler from the Asia-Pacific office to London to head up day-to-day oversight for the Zurich account. Patrick Marsh, who joined the firm as senior director earlier this year, is the global account leader.

The underlying motive, as with all such assignments, is to improve space utilization and increase cost savings although it’s too early to know if offices will be closed, consolidated or expanded in locations. “We are in a phase of understanding what we have,” he says, “and we don’t know yet what those strategies will unearth.”

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