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JLL Aims To Fuse Sales And Financing Efforts With Acquisition Of Sage Capital

JLL—which has been acquiring small firms all over the country—has turned its M&A eye to DC, purchasing Chevy Chase-based Sage Capital Advisors.

In 2010, John Duffy left his job co-managing Holliday Fenoglio Fowler's DC office, which he held for 15 years. In 2012, he started boutique brokerage firm Sage Capital with fellow HFF vets Bob Donhauser and Bill Asbill.

John, pictured above in the middle of the bottom row, with Bob on his left and Bill on his right, used his connections from HFF to help Sage land some massive deals, including the sale of America's Square (below), which Sage brokered for a staggering $1,083/SF for Ralph Dweck to Jamestown. That deal is still the highest price PSF in DC history.

"Even though Sage is a relatively small firm with a three-year history, most of the clients are people we have done business with over 20-plus years," John told Bisnow this morning. "As a result, we got a couple of really nice assignments right away and off we went."

John says he didn't start Sage with the intent of getting bought by a global firm like JLL, but he said Bob had been in talks with JLL for roughly two years about the acquisition. He said the move represents a "natural synergy" between a small firm with local expertise and one with a global platform.

John, Bill and Bob, as well as Sage's Maggie Duffy, Elizabeth Johnston and Andrew Asbill (pictured in the top row), will join JLL's Mid-Atlantic capital markets team.

JLL's head of capital advisors Steve Collins says JLL wasn't competing with Sage for any particular assignments, so acquiring them is completely additive. The acquisition represents a change of focus to emphasize the fusion between the sales and financing teams. Sometimes, Steve says, a firm will have a sales team come in with a pitch, and if they're unsuccessful, a finance team will follow up. Sage's strategy has been more holistic.

"Our concept with Sage coming on board is we're going to meet with clients and it's not a sale or a finance pursuit, it’s a joint capital solutions pursuit," Steve says. 

This new acquisition and strategy will help JLL compete in the DC sales market, which Steve says is one of the most competitive in the country. 

"There was a lot of competition out there, so the institutions can go to seven firms and say 'can you give me a broker opinion of value?'" Steve says. "Now with Sage’s large deal experience and expertise added on...it makes us bigger and it makes us more appealing to many of these institutions."