Rumors fly regarding Cushman-Newmark merger: report

Neither party commenting on potential combination of commercial brokerages

From left: Cushman & Wakefield chairman Brett White and Newmark CEO Barry Gosin (Cushman & Wakefield, Newmark, iStock)
From left: Cushman & Wakefield chairman Brett White and Newmark CEO Barry Gosin (Cushman & Wakefield, Newmark, iStock)

UPDATED June 29, 2022, 12 p.m.: As Cushman & Wakefield and the Newmark Group continue to vie for the top spot in the commercial brokerage world, rumors are flying that the two behemoths could merge.

Whispers of a potential merger made the rounds at last week’s Real Estate Board of New York gala, the New York Post reported. One source told the publication that the merge possibility “cratered a long time ago,” while another said talks are back on after they previously fell apart.

The Post reported later in the day that the rumors were false, and were possibly started by rivals looking to disrupt lease negotiations, but that neither publicly traded company could deny them on the record because of SEC disclosure rules.

Cushman declined to comment to the publication, while Newmark didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The tabloid also reported that Cushman quietly signed a deal to take 220,000 square feet at Brookfield’s 660 Fifth Avenue. Brookfield and Cushman both denied that a lease had been signed, although Brookfield acknowledged there were discussions. According to the Post, the merger talks may affect the outcome of those conversations.

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This month, The Real Deal reported that Cushman formed a committee to identify potential new office spaces in the city, eyeing an exodus from Vornado Realty Trust’s 1290 Sixth Avenue. One possibility floated was 660 Fifth Avenue, as Cushman is the leasing agent at the redeveloped Midtown tower.

Cushman and Newmark have long jockeyed for position atop the commercial brokerage hierarchy. Cushman ranks second in the city in terms of leasing and sales volume, while Newmark ranks third; CBRE is the top dog in New York. The three are part of the international brokerage world’s Mount Rushmore, where JLL rounds out the group.

Two years ago, Newmark reportedly rejected a takeover offer from Cushman, concerned about the latter’s high debt load. At the time, Cushman owed about $3.8 billion, more than its $2.6 billion market capitalization.

Neither party confirmed whether Cushman was eyeing a takeover of Newmark. The media have gotten this story wrong before: The Post reported that a 2020 Bloomberg News story was incorrect.

This article has been updated to include a subsequent report that the merger rumor was never true.

[NYP] — Holden Walter-Warner