JLL revenue skyrockets after HFF merger

Jumps 13 percent in third quarter to $4.5B, according to brokerage

JLL CEO Christian Ulbrich (Credit: iStock)
JLL CEO Christian Ulbrich (Credit: iStock)

JLL saw a major revenue boost during the third quarter following its megamerger with HFF.

Revenue at the global brokerage increased by 13 percent to $4.5 billion, and fee revenue increased by 14 percent to $1.8 billion, according to the company. The firm’s leasing and capital markets divisions fueled most of the growth.

“We are very happy to see that the first combined quarter went better, frankly, than we expected,” CEO Christian Ulbrich said on JLL’s third quarter earnings call Tuesday morning. He attributed this to the strong performance of the legacy teams at HFF and JLL during a major transition for both companies.

“You always expect some distraction,” he said, “so we were very proud that they were totally focused on our clients and continued to do what they are best at.”

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Mitch Germain, a REIT analyst at JMP Securities, echoed this point, writing in a note on the earnings report that JLL “produced top- and bottom-line outperformance.”

“We view the quarterly result as better than anticipated,” he wrote, “as the HFF integration appears to be running smoothly.”

JLL’s $2 billion purchase of HFF officially closed about four months ago, and there has been a lot of turnover since it was first announced, with several of HFF’s top teams muscling out many of JLL’s top brokers. One of the highest profile departures happened in August, when the former head of JLL’s debt arm Aaron Appel left the firm with his colleagues Adam Schwartz, Jonathan Schwartz and Keith Kurland to form their own company, AKS Capital Partners.

Mo Beler, the former head of JLL’s investment sales division, left the firm earlier this year as well.

Ulbrich maintained on the call that the merger was proceeding smoothly in terms of personnel, and the only major area still needing focus was integrating the technology at the two formerly separate firms.

“It’s going well on the people side. We will be back to normal cost of business very soon, and we’ll focus again on where our growth opportunities are in 2020,” he said. “So I think on that end, the merger will be very much behind us pretty soon.”