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CBRE Creates $400M Blank Check Company For Future Acquisitions


The largest commercial real estate services firm in the world has joined the craze of real estate-focused blank check companies.

CBRE submitted a filing on Monday to the Securities and Exchange Commission for the creation of CBRE Acquisition Holdings Inc., a special purpose acquisition company with the goal of raising $400M. CBRE Group President and CEO Bob Sulentic has been named chair of the new SPAC's board of directors, while CBRE Global Group President William Colcannon has been named CEO. 

In keeping with regulations governing SPACs (or blank check companies, as they are otherwise known), CBRE's filing said that the new company does not have any particular target in mind.

Most SPACs formed by real estate companies, like the one worth $300M that Tishman Speyer created earlier this year, have focused on the acquisition of proptech companies. While CBRE's filing doesn't go as far as setting a specific direction, it does list "accelerated digitalization of, and data proliferation within, the real estate industry" as the top item in its list of criteria it will consider for potential acquisitions.

Distinct from the traditional, if more drawn out, method of an initial public offering to take a company public, a SPAC can be immediately listed on stock markets before it has any assets. (CBRE's own SPAC will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange as CBAH.U.) Though it is still subject to scrutiny and regulations from the SEC, it is a way for companies to avoid exhaustive disclosures of its financials and two-week roadshows for potential investors.

SoftBank Vision Fund, the venture capital arm of SoftBank Group that drove billions of dollars of investment into WeWork, is preparing to form a SPAC of its own, just over a year after WeWork's disastrous IPO filing demonstrated the pitfalls of the process.

Initial investors in CBRE Acquisition Holdings will pay $10 for each of the $40M Stakeholder Aligned Initial Listings, which include one-fifth of a warrant to purchase further shares for $11 each. Any investor who buys such SAILs is betting on CBRE's judgment and acumen in choosing which companies to acquire and take public.