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Wells Fargo Sells Majority Of Eastdil Secured To Executive Team, Wealth Funds

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After months of speculation, Wells Fargo confirmed it is selling real estate services firm Eastdil Secured in a management buyout deal.

ROY MARCH JEFF WEBER
Eastdil CEO Roy March and Managing Director Jeff Weber

Eastdil's executives are taking back an ownership stake in the firm, alongside Guggenheim Investments clients and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings, the banking giant announced Tuesday.

The deal, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, values the company at more than $400M. Over time, employees of the firm will be able to own more than 40% of its equity, according to the Journal.

Rumors of the sale have been swirling for over a year now, and last July there were reports that Wells Fargo was keen to sell the company, but had yet to find a buyer. 

The deal is set to close in the fourth quarter, with Wells Fargo retaining a minority stake in the brokerage. The sale comes less than a year after another sovereign wealth fund bought into a broker-owned firm — last year, Canadian wealth fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec made a $250M preferred equity investment into Avison Young, which is largely owned by its brokers.

Eastdil CEO Roy March told the Journal that, no longer tethered to Wells Fargo, the firm will be able to expand in the United States and overseas, and will be able to develop its own technology — making it well-placed to handle a shifting brokerage world.

There has been widespread change in the commercial real estate landscape in the last year, particularly among real estate services.

Earlier this year, JLL agreed to buy investment sales and debt firm HFF for $2B. Last summer, New York City firm Eastern Consolidated closed down, and months later venture capital-backed firm Compass moved into the commercial real estate space, launching its own investment sales shop in August.

Newmark Group acquired New York City retail leasing and investment sales brokerage RKF last May. 

“Betting against Eastdil or against Roy March is not a great idea,” Blackstone Group CEO Jonathan Gray told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s a very successful firm that is quite effective at what it does.”

Wells Fargo bought Eastdil — which focuses on sales and debt transactions north of $100M — in 1999.

In the past few years the firm saw a number of high-profile departures. Last year, a group of managing directors jumped ship to go to Newmark Group to run its hotel capital markets business.

In 2016, Eastdil lost its top investment sales team, Douglas Harmon and Adam Spies, to Cushman & Wakefield. In February, Eastdil Director of Investment Sales Doug Middleton left for an executive vice president position at CBRE.

CORRECTION, JUNE 12, 6 P.M. ET: The deal values the Eastdil at more than $400M. Clients of Guggenheim Investments are taking an ownership stake. An earlier version misstated its reported value and the nature of Guggenheim's involvement.