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Barry Gosin And Robert Futterman On The Future of Newmark RKF

In the 24 hours since Newmark Group announced it will buy New York City retail leasing and investment sales brokerage RKF for an undisclosed sum, RKF founder Robert Futterman said he has been flooded with calls from brokers and companies asking one thing: "Can we talk?"

RKF founder and Chairman Robert Futterman, speaking at a Bisnow event in 2017.

“I am on the hunt [for talent], but I’m also being hunted,” Futterman told Bisnow in an interview. “RKF has eight offices in North America and that’s with our only currency being our culture. Now we have Newmark’s currency along with our culture … We are planning to position [ourselves] for the future.”

Following months of speculation, Newmark formally announced yesterday that it will buy the 20-year old, Midtown Manhattan-based RKF.

Futterman is staying on as the chairman of what will be known as Newmark RKF and will spearhead the company’s retail expansion. All of his RKF brokers will remain on staff, and the price of the acquisition — which is a combination of both stocks and cash — will be made public at the end of the quarter. The deal is due to close in the third quarter.

Futterman said that, in the past, powerhouses like CBRE and Colliers have shown interest in buying his firm. He has not shopped RKF around, but the offer from Newmark, unlike previous ones, felt like the right fit.

He is selling now to “stay competitive and to grow our business," he said. "Just imagine, with Newmark's resources, where we can go.”

This is Newmark’s first brokerage acquisition since the firm went public last December, but the company has been focused on adding muscle this year.

In March, it hired Cantor Commercial Real Estate founder Anthony Orso to head up its capital markets strategies group. It lured an Eastdil Secured team  to run the hotel capital markets group earlier this month.

Newmark CEO Barry Gosin told Bisnow the firm is gathering talent — he said he would never use the term “poach” — and will continue to acquire brokerages that will deepen the company’s reach.

“The real estate market throughout the world is fragmented … There is enormous runway for us as a company,” Gosin said. “Buying Robert [is] a perfect example of the company we are interested in: someone who devoted his life to building up the company and says ‘I have done all I can do … I’m on the right path, and now I need capital.'”

Newmark Knight Frank Global Corporate Services CEO Craig Robinson with Newmark Group CEO Barry Gosin at the company's December 2017 IPO

Gosin said while the retail market is “stressed on some fronts,” he is certain that the company can take on the headwinds of the shifting market. Futterman, he said, has 30 years of experience working with every kind of owner in every kind of market.

Despite the fanfare around Newmark’s initial public offering last year, the investor reaction has so far been largely underwhelming. At first, the company planned to sell 30 million shares priced at $19 to $22 each. But the response to that price was lukewarm, so its parent company, BGC Partners, decided to slash the cost, and the official public price was $14/share.

As of Wednesday, Newmark’s shares were trading at $13.89. Gosin noted, however, the firm is only in its second quarter as a public entity and 84% of the stocks are owned by Newmark’s parent company.

“I’m bullish on the company," he said. "I have every reason to be. I take significant pay in stock.”

Wedbush Securities analyst Jason Weaver said he thinks the current complex ownership of Newmark could be a turnoff to some institutional investors. He said the purchase of RKF will do little to move the needle on the share price.

“It doesn’t change the game for Newmark, it just helps them bolster their existing practice … I would bet that they acquired [RKF] at an attractive valuation,” Weaver said. “RKF is not tiny, but it's not big either …[but] it’s a positive and gets them to a critical mass.”