Finance  ·  Industry

Cushman & Wakefield Goes Public


Cushman & Wakefield (CWK) has become the latest real estate giant to debut as a public company, launching a sale of $765 million worth of shares that will trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

The 45 million shares, trading under the ticker symbol CWK, debuted at $17. The sale values the company at around $3.13 billion. The initial public offering had been expected since late June, when the Chicago-based broker and asset manager announced in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it would follow in the footsteps of competitor Newmark (NMRK) Knight Frank, which held its own IPO at the end of 2017.

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Morgan Stanley (MS), J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs (GS) and UBS make up the cadre of banks that underwrote the deal. The underwriters have a 30-day option to buy an additional 6.75 million shares.

In anticipation of the public sale, C&W granted an advanced buying opportunity last week to China Vanke, the largest residential property developer in China. The Shenzen-based corporation bought a 4.9 percent ownership stake in C&W for $175 million, a deal that valued C&W overall at $3.9 billion.

TPG Capital, a private equity firm, led an investment group that purchased C&W along with Cassidy Turley and the European firm DTZ in 2015. TPG paid about $3.5 billion for the three companies, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In the stock offering, the current ownership group retained a controlling stake, and no dividends are planned for the near future, according to the company’s SEC filings.

Despite $7 billion in revenue in 2017, C&W posted a net loss of $221 million for the year, and the company lost another $92 million in the first quarter of 2018. But the sale comes at a moment when C&W’s publicly traded competitors have become favorites among investors. CBRE (CBRE) ended Wednesday trading at $49.80, just off its all-time high of $50.43. JLL (JLL) closed the day at $170.21, just 5 percent below its all-time high of $178.75 from March.

Investors have sent mixed signals, on the other hand, about NKF, which has traded on the Nasdaq since last December. The company debuted at $14 and has since traded between $13.12 and $16.98, closing yesterday at $13.83 after opening the summer near $16.