Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Staubach, JLL Merger Talks Pick Up Again

The on-off rumor that Staubach Co. is poised to merge with Jones Lang LaSalle has surfaced once again. Well-placed industry sources say it is still rumor at this time, but aren't discounting that it won't turn to fact at some point.

A spokeswoman for Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. in Chicago says there is no comment from its camp because it constitutes a material transaction. JLL's corporate policy bars commenting on material transactions until finalized. An interview request is pending with Dallas-based Staubach's corporate chief, who was unavailable by GlobeSt.com's early afternoon deadline. Neither company has arbitrarily dismissed the inquiry as purely rumor.

The long-standing merger rumor has been surfacing periodically in the market for nearly two years. Some market watchers say the catalysts have been the 2007 corporate shifts by Roger Staubach and a value-building move earlier this year when Staubach gave up stock to Century 21 franchisees so they'd convert their operations into branch offices.

Of course, JLL's buying mode this year lends more credence to the street talk than previous market chatter. Earlier this month, JLL completed the acquisition of Kempber's Holding GmbH, a Germany-based retail company. In a May 6 filing with the SEC, JLL, which signed the merger agreement in January, reported the deal made it the largest property advisory business in Germany, picking up offices in Leipzig, Cologne and Hannover. In April, JLL bought Leechiu & Associates, an agency business in the Philippines, and a 10% stake in Alkas, a Turkish-based commercial real estate firm. According to the SEC filing, the triple play cost $134.2 million.