Grubb & Ellis cancels auction, leaving BGC Partners as only buyer

By Adam Pincus | March 21, 2012 10:49AM

An auction scheduled for today to sell nearly all the assets of the distressed California-based brokerage Grubb & Ellis was cancelled yesterday, leaving stalking-horse bidder BGC Partners as the only buyer, documents filed last night with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan show.

On March 7, the bankruptcy court approved the process naming BGC Partners as the stalking horse bidder (the first buyer who sets the minimum price) and setting the auction in the event there were competing and higher bidders. However, as of the bid due date of 4 p.m. yesterday, no other buyers stepped forward.

Also beginning last week, Grubb brokers filed hundreds of objections to the amount that Grubb claims they are owed. For example, Grubb documents say Martin Cottingham, managing director for the corporate services group in New York, is owed $76,923, but he claims he is owed $439,038 for commissions due on closed deals, his objection filed last Friday says.

BGC did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Grubb declined to comment.

In addition, Cottingham joined other New York brokers Vincent Carrega, Neil Helman, Jon Epstein, Charles Kingsley, Yoav Oelsner, Jason Meister, Michael Gottlieb and Howard Grufferman, who together filed last Friday a partial objection to the sale. Although they support the sale, their filing says, they want Grubb or BGC to hold their commissions in a separate account, giving them the right to pursue their commissions after the sale.

If the commissions are thrown in with the sale of the company, the brokers will not be able to file a claim for them because the bankruptcy process removes all liens against the assets.

In addition, Grubb & Ellis filed notices with the state Department of Labor Monday and yesterday that it may lay off as many as 106 employees that are part of the company’s management division in their Midtown and Midtown South offices.