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[IMGCAP(1)]NEW YORK CITY-GVA Williams and FirstService Corp.–whose service platform also includes Colliers International among others–have entered into a definitive agreement for FirstService to acquire a 65% interest in New York City-based GVA Williams, as GlobeSt.com earlier reported. Word started swirling earlier this summer about a potential union for GVA Williams, following the $630-million Jones Lang LaSalle and Staubach Co. union, however, it was more focused on how the brokerage part of the company could potentially feed the Colliers network.

An anonymous local industry source, who is not involved in the deal, tells GlobeSt.com that smaller firms in the New York City market may now want to be concerned–and perhaps even larger firms. “This could be the first of a series of out-of-town firms buying opportunistically in New York,” the source says. “Since leasing volume is down in terms of the number of deals and the size of those deals, and that decline will only accelerate in the short term, at least, the firms that either want to be here, or who want to be more significant here, may make a push into this market.”

[IMGCAP(2)]Toronto-based FirstService’s capital investment in GVA Williams is expected to enormously elevate the firm and will “allow the firm to further expand its service to its current client roster and more effectively compete with other multinational real estate companies,” according to a prepared statement. The cash infusion is a first step in the eventual repositioning of the firm, which also “will enable it to open additional offices, invest in top industry talent and utilize the world-class training and other human resource capabilities of a global company.” GVA Williams tells GlobeSt.com that they cannot disclose further financial terms at this time. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of September, 2008 at which time GVA Williams will be rebranded as Williams Real Estate, a FirstService Co.

Williams Real Estate will become the New York City hub office for FirstService’s global commercial real estate services platform which will now operate from 147 offices, in 36 countries and generates annual revenues of approximately $1 billion. GVA Williams senior management and other employees will retain an equity stake and will maintain operational control of the firm. Under the new ownership structure, eight senior executives will share the majority of GVA Williams’ equity in the firm: Robert Freedman, executive chairman; Mark Jaccom, CEO; Michael Cohen, president; Andrew Roos, vice chairman; Brian Given, vice chairman, Cory Gubner, vice chairman, Eric Witmondt, vice chairman and David Simson, vice chairman.

Robert Freedman says in a prepared statement that “under its former structure, we grew the business substantially and steadily over the years. The strategic investment FirstService has made in GVA Williams will help us turn that steady growth into exponential growth. Not only does this transaction give us the financial resources to offer new lines of service and expand the services we currently offer, but it enables us to open numerous new offices in areas where a physical presence will help us establish dominance.”

Mark Jaccom, CEO of GVA Williams, who is spearheading the firm’s new business development sector, says in a prepared statement that “the partnering of GVA Williams and FirstService will serve to bolster our market share in New York City and around the globe. We will now be one of the foremost influential real estate firms competing in the international arena. The global market needed some healthy competition and we wanted to be more of an active participant. This welcome change will not only be good for GVA Williams, but for the entire real estate market as a whole.”

One of Jaccom’s priorities in the restructured firm is to step up recruitment efforts. “While GVA Williams has always been a magnet that’s attracted the best and brightest real estate executives, our plans will necessitate intensifying our recruitment efforts, which will help fuel our accelerated growth,” Jaccom says. “We will continue to bring in top-notch consultants and analysts from a range of industries, not just real estate, to provide our clients with value-added services.”

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