With chance to cash out company shares, Cushman & Wakefield faces new test with senior staffers

February 21, 2013 10:00AM

Cushman & Wakefield faces a key confidence vote next month when senior employees have the chance to cash out shares valued at tens of millions of dollars, Crain’s reported.

The senior employees control roughly 30 percent of the shares and can sell 25 percent of them. The sales, which could bring $60 million to $125 million, are the first since Exor SpA acquired an almost 70 percent controlling stake in the brokerage in 2006.

If the employees hold on to their shares, they are showing their belief in Cushman and its overall value, Crain’s said. A sell-off, though, would weaken the workers’ commitment to the brokerage and would show a lack of confidence in Cushman’s direction.

“It’s a very big deal to have brokers tied to the company they work for,” Greg Kraut, principal at Canadian newcomer Avison Young, told Crain’s. “If people are selling off their shares, it certainly doesn’t make it harder to leave.”

John Cushman, a top broker and a grandson of the firm’s founder, told Crain’s he’s not worried. Other senior employees, who Crain’s did not identified because Cushman did not authorize them to speak about the sales, said they also will hold their stakes.

“If anyone exercise this option (to sell), it will amount to an insignificant sum,” Cushman told Crain’s. “We’re the third largest commercial real estate services firm in the world and we’re doing better than we ever have.”

Last week, Cushman hired Ronald Lo Russo of Vornado Realty Trust as president of the New York tri-state region. [Crain’s]Zachary Kussin