Compass to acquire Pacific Union in blockbuster deal

San Francisco-based Pacific Union brokerage did $14B in sales last year

Aug.August 21, 2018 01:59 PM
Mark McLaughlin and Robert Reffkin (Credit: Jeff Newton, iStock)

UPDATED, August 21, 2:50 p.m.: Compass is closing in on a blockbuster deal to buy Pacific Union International Realty, one of the largest brokerages on the West Coast, with $14 billion in sales last year.

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin confirmed the deal Tuesday in an email to employees, a copy of which was obtained by The Real Deal. Sources said Pacific Union CEO Mark McLaughlin alerted managers earlier this month. The deal, which was to be publicly announced Thursday, was first reported by Inman.

Pacific Union is the fifth-largest brokerage nationwide with 1,700 agents and 54 offices, according to Real Trends, a Colorado-based consulting firm. Following a major acquisition spree, the San Francisco-based firm is on track to hit $18 billion in revenue this year, CEO Mark McLaughlin told The Real Deal in April.

New York-based Compass, which started in 2012 now has more than 4,000 agents, and claims it generated $370 million in revenue last year.

The venture capital-backed firm has been on an acquisition tear since December, when it landed $450 million from SoftBank. The deal valued Compass at $2.2 billion. In a bid to capture 20 percent market share in 20 U.S. cities, Compass has acquired nine brokerage firms around the country so far this year, including Paragon, a $2.3 billion firm in San Francisco.

Under McLaughlin, Pacific Union has grown to be the largest independent brokerage in California. It scooped up the John Aaroe Group in December 2016, a deal that gave the firm an additional 1,100 agents and 38 offices.

Eight months later, Pacific Union merged with Partners Trust, a boutique firm with seven offices. The behemoth company expanded its stake further by absorbing Gibson International, a Los Angles firm with four offices. Pacific Union also owns the Mark Company, a San Francisco-based development sales firm, and Empire Realty Associates, a Chino-based brokerage.

The deal with Compass raises questions about McLaughlin’s role going forward. He has publicly criticized Compass, suggesting it overstated its market share in the San Francisco area. And earlier this month, he dismissed its acquisition of Paragon — a deal that coincided with Compass’ foray into commercial brokerage.

“I got a kick out of Compass’ announcement because they say they’re getting into commercial, but most of the Paragon team joined us about 90 days ago,” he told Inman.

Neither Compass nor Pacific Union responded to requests for comment.

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