CBRE Group Inc.—short for Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis—is the largest commercial real estate services firm and brokerage in the United States. The publicly traded company was founded in San Francisco more than a century ago, after a historic earthquake devastated much of the city in 1906. Known as Coldwell, Cornwall & Banker in its early years, the firm eventually shortened its name to Coldwell Banker.
After Sears acquired the company in 1981, a management-led buyout consortium headed by the Carlyle Group purchased Coldwell Banker’s commercial arm and took it public in 1996, though CBRE wasn’t officially added to the S&P until it had a second public offering in 2004.
CBRE has also absorbed many smaller real estate operations over the last two decades, including Trammell Crow Company and Insignia Financial Group, as well as European real estate companies like ING Group and Telford Homes.
Now 100,000 people strong and headquartered in Los Angeles, CBRE has an outsized presence in nearly every major market in the U.S. In New York City, the company employs 2,500 people and tends to lead the pack every year in signing major office and industrial leases. The brokerage has strong relationships with large institutional clients like city and state agencies and private companies with international footprints.
CBRE, for instance, nailed down one of the largest leases of 2020 in a 452,000-square-foot transaction with the state’s Office of General Services at 60 Broad Street.