Canada's Avison Young completes acquisition of GVA

Privately held Canadian commercial real estate services firm Avison Young has completed the acquisition of UK-headquartered advisory firm GVA. 

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the deal, GVA will be rebranded Avison Young. As a result of the transaction, Avison Young approximately doubles in size, reaching 5,000 real estate professionals in 120 offices across 20 countries.

'In GVA, Avison Young has added a like-minded UK real estate leader – a company that brings a partnership culture formed during more than 200 years in business,' said Mark E. Rose, chair and CEO of Avison Young.

'The acquisition increases our scale and presence, expands our global talent pool and reach, and enhances the breadth and balance of our services. Most importantly, the combination increases the resources that we can invest in innovation to keep our clients ahead of the curve,' Rose added.

The acquisition includes GVA Worldwide, an international organisation of licensed affiliate commercial real estate advisory companies with offices in 20 countries. GVA has 1,500 employees in 15 offices in the UK, Ireland and Poland alone, and is a founding member and majority shareholder of GVA Worldwide.

The post-acquisition leadership team combines management from both firms. Avison Young principal and UK managing director Jason Sibthorpe becomes principal and president, UK; GVA CEO Gerry Hughes becomes principal and managing director, UK and managing director, global consultancy; and GVA chair Andy Mottram becomes principal and managing director, Europe.

Avison Young said the merger brought offices in the UK, Austria, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Poland, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Russia, Spain and United Arab Emirates to the business.

The combination makes Avison Young one of the largest five commercial real estate advisory firms in the UK. As a result of the merger, Avison Young said it would increase its revenue to 25 times its 2008 level to approximately C$1 billion.

In connection with the transaction, Avison Young has executed a recapitalisation. The acquisition and the refinancing have been funded through a combination of cash on hand, committed financing from Credit Suisse, CIBC and BofA Merrill Lynch, and additional common equity, including participation by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ).

Credit Suisse and KPMG LLP acted as Avison Young’s financial advisors in the acquisition of GVA; and Gowling WLG (UK), DLA Piper LLP (US and UK) and Stikeman Elliott LLP (Canada) served as Avison Young’s legal advisors.


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