Jones Lang Hires New York Office-Leasing `Rock Stars' From Rival Cushman

Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. hired a New York-based office leasing team from Cushman & Wakefield Inc., the second addition of a major brokerage group from its rival in less than a year.

The leasing team led by Mitchell Konsker resigned from Cushman after disagreements over the company’s direction, the firm said today in an e-mailed statement. The group starts tomorrow at Jones Lang, Peter Riguardi, president of the company’s New York office, said in a telephone interview.

“It’s a blow for Cushman & Wakefield and a coup for Jones Lang,” said Lawrence Longua, director of the REIT Center at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate, in a phone interview. “The firms are almost secondary to the rock stars of the industry.”

Jones Lang, the second-biggest publicly traded commercial- property broker, last year hired a building sales group including Scott Latham away from Cushman. Brokerage teams such as Konsker’s and Latham’s have personal relationships with landlords and tenants, and those people tend to be more focused on the individuals than the firm, Longua said.

The other departing Cushman brokers are Matthew Astrachan, Alexander Chudnoff, Paul Glickman and Mitti Liebersohn. The team’s clients have included Cantor Fitzgerald LP, Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. and Associated Press.

‘Bigger Wake’

The hirings “will enable us to create a bigger wake for our organization in this marketplace,” Jones Lang’s Riguardi said. “They’re going to make me better. They’re peers of mine and I’m just excited to have the opportunity to work with them.”

The Konsker team’s contract with Cushman had run out, “and they wanted to shop the market,” James Underhill, Cushman’s chief executive officer for the Americas, said in a phone interview. “At the end of the day we didn’t think they were a good fit for the direction we were going, and we made no special attempt to keep them.”

Cushman has more than 200 brokers based in New York, Underhill said. They include Tara Stacom, who is overseeing leasing of One World Trade Center, the skyscraper rising at Ground Zero designed to replace the twin towers in the lower Manhattan skyline. The company also has Franklin Speyer, who negotiated a new lease last year for the National Football League at 345 Park Avenue, Underhill said.

Wal-Mart Lease

Konsker and Chudnoff were part of the team that represented Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 2007 on a 46,103-square-foot (4,283- square-meter) lease for executive offices at 1372 Broadway in New York. Konsker also represented the landlord, Hakimian Organization, when advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide moved to a former industrial building at 636 11th Ave.

Latham, Richard Baxter, Ron Cohen and Jon Caplan joined Jones Lang in May. That team oversaw the 2007 sale of 666 Fifth Ave. for $1.8 billion, then the most ever paid for a U.S. skyscraper, as well as the sales of the MetLife and Seagram buildings in Midtown Manhattan. Cushman, the biggest closely held property-services firm, responded by hiring Nat Rockett, an investment sales broker who had been working for Jones Lang.

“It’s always good to have people who have a proven track record in the more iconic transactions,” Riguardi said. “But it’s also important to have people that are collaborative, and are able to make other people better in our organization.”

Jones Lang’s hirings reflect a bid to position itself as “a strong and growing brand,” William Marks, a real estate analyst with JMP Securities LLC in San Francisco, said in a phone interview.

Bigger Player

“Ten years ago, it probably wasn’t a top 10 player,” said Marks, who has a “market outperform” rating on Chicago-based Jones Lang. “Now it’s attempting to become No. 1 to CB Richard Ellis,” the biggest real estate services firm worldwide.

Jones Lang shares rose $2.56, or 3 percent, to $86.95 as of 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares gained 38 percent in the past 12 months.

The Konsker team joined Cushman with former CEO Bruce Mosler, who remains with the company. Mosler and Arthur Mirante, another former Cushman CEO, are working together on a new brokerage team that will create opportunities by “leveraging” their relationships with senior Fortune 500 executives, according to a Dec. 22 memorandum to employees.

“Bruce Mosler, given the depths of his relationships in the community, as well as Arthur’s, he wanted to get back closer to the clients,” Underhill said. “With the resources and the quality of the team we have in place now, we don’t think we’re going to miss a beat.”

To contact the reporter on this story: David M. Levitt in New York at dlevitt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel in New York at kwetzel@bloomberg.net

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