JLL Closes on $1.8B Acquisition of HFF, Creating Brokerage Powerhouse


JLL (JLL) has completed its roughly $1.8 billion acquisition of capital markets advisory firm HFF, JLL announced yesterday. 

The deal closed yesterday after being given the go-ahead by HFF shareholders, according to JLL. The union of the country’s most active debt-advisory shops crowns JLL as the single largest mortgage brokerage in the nation, as Commercial Observer previously reported.

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“We are delighted to bring together JLL and HFF to create one of the most strategic, connected and creative capital advisors in the world,” Christian Ulbrich, the global CEO of JLL, said in prepared remarks. “By combining the impressive capabilities, talent and expertise that distinguish both organizations, we will deliver exciting new growth opportunities.”

The deal will bolster JLL’s capital markets team to more than 3,700 workers in 47 countries, according to JLL. It is also anticipated to help JLL build its U.S. capital markets business, grow its debt advisory business in Europe and Asia Pacific and improve its operating efficiencies, the firm said in a March statement.

JLL appointed Mark Gibson, the former CEO of HFF, as CEO of capital markets for the Americas and co-chair of its global capital markets board.

“Joining JLL marks an exciting new chapter in our history,” Gibson said in a statement.

Under the acquisition, HFF’s stock has ceased trading and was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange today, according to JLL. Most of HFF’s top producers and its executive committee have joined JLL since the acquisition and the firm expects the majority of JLL’s senior leadership to say on, a source with knowledge of the merger said.

JLL’s purchase of HFF was first announced in March and was almost immediately fraught with tension as the two brokerages’ debt teams butted heads over territory and hierarchy, as CO reported. 

HFF figures voiced concerns about working with JLL vice chairmen Keith Kurland and Aaron Appel, both aggressive and prickly superstars in the field who completed more than $11 billion in loan originations last year, as reported. 

The situation got so bad last month that a false rumor circulated that Appel was fired, which was reported in The Real Deal before being quickly corrected.

“I’ve been getting these rumors for four months since HFF [merger talks started],” Appel told CO when the rumor first circulated. “I’ve got a long term contract. I’m not going anywhere.”

Appel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.