Brokerage Colliers Splitting From Parent in Bid to Expand

Colliers International plans to split from parent FirstService Corp., Canada’s largest real estate services provider, to focus on acquisitions and expanding in the commercial-property market.

The current publicly traded company will change its name to Colliers International Group Inc., and FirstService will become a new public company, according to a statement Tuesday. Financial details of the transaction, which is being structured as a tax-free spinoff to shareholders, weren’t disclosed.

“Today we are taking the next bold, but logical, step in unlocking even greater value for FirstService shareholders,” Chief Executive Officer Jay Hennick said in the statement.

After the separation, FirstService will focus on residential-property services and generating a return for shareholders through regular dividends, the company said. Colliers will seek to add services and acquire other firms, according to the statement. The transaction is subject to board, regulatory and shareholder approval.

North American real estate firms have made deals to gain greater access to market data and new clients in a competitive industry. Altus Group Ltd. acquired closely held Canadian property-data provider RealNet last July, and Toronto-based researcher Urbanation bought a 50 percent stake in the Marsh Report in September. In the U.S., Colliers rival Cushman & Wakefield Inc. purchased Massey Knakal Realty Services, a brokerage specializing in New York City commercial property sales.

Hennick will be executive chairman of Colliers and chairman of FirstService. Scott Patterson, currently chief operating officer of FirstService, will become CEO. John Friedrichsen, now chief financial officer at FirstService, will move to Colliers for the same post. Doug Frye, global president and CEO of Colliers, and Dylan Taylor, global COO of Colliers, will stay in their roles.

Shares of FirstService have gained 47 percent in the past year, outperforming the Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index by almost five times over the period.

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