The US-based real estate brokerage firm HFF is planning to enter the UK market through the acquisition of a London-based advisory firm.
HFF, which is one of the major real estate advisers in the US market, is to expand outside of its domestic market for the first time through the purchase of independent firm Leon Partners which focusses on investment banking and corporate finance.
The London branch of HFF is expected to provide a full range of commercial real estate capital markets transaction services including investment banking and corporate finance, investment transactions and debt and equity placement.
The move will represent a significant new addition to the growing European real estate debt brokerage scene. In recent years, fellow US adviser Eastdil Secured has become a major player in the market, and several property consultancy firms and loan servicers have expanded into real estate debt advisory.
According to HFF’s website, the firm has closed more than 17,900 transactions representing $450 billion in the US market since 1998. HFF has a network of 23 offices in its home market.
The acquisition is subject to receipt of regulatory approvals and is expected to close in early 2017.
Leon Partners, which was founded in July 2015, provides advisory services on real estate and corporate M&A transactions. It also matches clients up with private capital investors and prepares companies to access the UK and Irish public markets.
David Church and Raj Somchand, Leon Partners’ founding partners, will join HFF along with a team of four associates. Church and Somchand will lead the London office’s corporate finance and investment banking business. Church and Somchand previously worked in the real estate investment banking division of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Michael Kavanau, senior managing director and co-head of HFF’s Chicago office is to relocate to London to lead the equity and debt placement business. The firm said he will be joined by associates in due course.
“HFF’s global clients have been encouraging HFF to enter the London and European markets and we are delighted to have found great chemistry and a complimentary skill set in David, Raj and the Leon Partners team,” said HFF CEO Mark Gibson.
“Additionally, with Michael Kavanau’s relocation to London, HFF is sending one of its longest tenured partners to not only bring his vast skill set of the debt and equity placement businesses but also to help with the integration of the Leon team and other London-based capital markets specialists into HFF’s collaborative, team-oriented culture,” Gibson added.
“The opportunity to help build a truly market-leading, independent and conflict-free, best-in-class one stop real estate advisory and capital markets business is hugely compelling,” added Leon’s Somchand.