Following merger, CBRE pares down

Commercial brokerage CB Richard Ellis has done a lot of pruning in the wake of its $2.2 billion acquisition of Trammell Crow.

The December merger between the commercial brokerages left publicly held CBRE with 21,000 employees, approximately 7,000 of which arrived from Trammell Crow.

Since the acquisition, CBRE has shuttered offices in Phoenix, Boston and Baltimore.

In Manhattan, CBRE is expected to retain about 80 percent of its staff and on-site personnel, and 90 percent of its employees in the region as a whole, a CBRE spokesperson said.

But Dirk Hrobsky, senior vice president at CBRE and former senior vice president at Trammell Crow, said only about 10 to 12 senior Trammell Crow Manhattan employees — out of approximately 55 employees all together — will move to CBRE in a matter of weeks. And of the 24 brokers CBRE acquired, only a team of eight specializing in global leasing will make the transition, he said.

“CBRE has strong brokerage capabilities in Manhattan and were very selective with Trammell Crow,” said the spokesperson. “We think the people joining us are among the best.”

“In New York as much as any market in the U.S., CBRE isn’t going to just add people. Not many people were offered a chance to move to CBRE,” said Hrobsky. “It’s really just global corporate services and brokerage, project management, investment sales and our consulting group [that were kept].”

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Instead, the investment sales group became a real estate, lodging and leisure group for investment bank Houlihan Lokey. There, Jonathan Geanakos will co-head the group, which consists of Stephen Pearlman, Frank Muhlon and Nicholas Harris — all former employees of Trammell Crow in Manhattan.

Jones Lang LaSalle signed former Trammell Crow principal Robert Hackett as New York regional director, a position that also includes responsibilities in the New Jersey market.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for me to do corporate business in New Jersey,” Hackett said. “Jones Lang LaSalle has had a culture I felt more comfortable with.”

Hackett added that he had the opportunity to work at CBRE despite the fact that his position was eliminated in the merger.

“Jones Lang LaSalle and Trammell Crow are collaborative firms and service-oriented, with more depth in integrated services, while CBRE has a brokerage culture,” Hackett said. “It’s a different dynamic and resources are allocated differently.”

Jones Lang LaSalle has also tapped a Trammell Crow team in Philadelphia that includes William Luff, Kenneth Zirk, Drew McGowan and Stephanie Brill.

“The merger presented everyone with an opportunity,” Hackett said. “Change is going to drive people whether or not they had an opportunity at CBRE.”