Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Grubb & Ellis Files For Bankruptcy, Sells Itself to BGC Partners After All - CoStar Group

Grubb & Ellis Co., one of the country’s most recognizable CRE services brands which fell on hard financial times during the economic recession, has agreed to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and sell the company in a bankruptcy transaction to BGC Partners, owners of Newmark Knight Frank.

In a statement, Santa Ana, CA-based Grubb & Ellis said it believes the acquisition by the investment firm headed by Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick "will bring the much-needed scale and resources the company had been seeking through its strategic process" and will position Grubb & Ellis to "become part of a well-capitalized global platform."

"Following a thorough and rigorous process and the evaluation of all available options, we determined that a partnership with BGC provides the best platform for our brokerage professionals, employees and clients," said Thomas P. D'Arcy, president and chief executive officer of Grubb & Ellis. "We believe the transaction will be seamless for our clients and we expect no disruption to the company's operations.

"Furthermore, we believe our professionals and clients will benefit greatly by being part of the BGC organization, which, with its recent acquisition of Newmark Knight Frank, will bring together two strong brands to create a powerhouse in the commercial real estate space. BGC's purchase of the company's senior debt and its willingness to provide incremental financing to ensure the smooth execution of the sale process demonstrate its commitment to the success of the Grubb & Ellis business."

To execute the bankruptcy sale, BGC said it has acquired the outstanding secured debt of Grubb & Ellis and has committed to provide debtor-in-possession financing to fund Grubb & Ellis operations during the sale and bankruptcy process.Grubb & Ellis has filed motions requesting that the bankruptcy court approve sale procedures and set a hearing date to approve the sale.

Lutnick, chairman and CEO of BGC, said the deal reflects the "deep and unwavering commitment" of BGC to build a premier position in real estate services.

"We agreed to acquire Grubb & Ellis because we believeNewmark Knight Frank's and Grubb & Ellis' broad knowledge and extensive brokerage expertise, combined with BGC's powerful proprietary technology and our strong financial backing, will enable Grubb & Ellis to thrive and grow as part of the BGC family of companies."

Barry M. Gosin, CEO of Newmark Knight Frank, pointed to the "tremendous" synergies between NKF's's consultative approach to clients and Grubb's transactional and management services capabilities. James D. Kuhn, NKF president, added that Newmark Knight Frank's business model has been "dramatically strengthened" upon becoming part of BGC and believes Grubb & Ellis's brokers, employees and clients would find the same opportunities to grow.

The announcement comes a week after longtime Grubb & Ellis Co. director C. Michael Kojaian resigned from the company's board of directors, in part to "avoid actual or apparent conflicts of interest" in connection with his affiliated companies.

Negotiations with several prominent companies in recent months, including BGC Partners, C-III Capital Partners and Colony Capital, had failed to yield an agreement that would infuse enough cash into the company to continue operations.