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DTZ to be taken private

The first property services firm to be listed on the London Stock Exchange is currently in talks to be taken private by its biggest shareholder.

DTZ has received a takeover bid from Saint George Participations (SGP), the French family-owned property company which owns the majority of shares in the global property services firm, according to multiple news sources.

Shares in the London-headquartered firm have increased by 60 percent to 46p after it admitted discussions with ‘various parties’ had taken place in a statement to the London Stock Exchange (LSE) yesterday, and after SGP confirmed it was talking to it ahead of a possible offer. SPG owns 55 percent of DTZ’s shares.

A sale and subsequent delisting would mark the departure of the LSE’s first property services firm – DTZ floated in 1987.

According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, after buying DTZ, SPG is then expected to sell the company on to BNP Paribas, the French bank which already owns continental Europe-focused BNP Paribas Real Estate, formerly known as Atisreal. Central to the purchase of DTZ would be the amalgamation of the two businesses.

SPG became a majority shareholder in DTZ in 2008, after the firm executed an emergency fundraise to meet its various financial obligations. While its listed rivals Richard Ellis and Jones Lang LaSalle have emerged from the credit crunch in relatively strong financial positions, DTZ has continued to struggle.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, DTZ said yesterday: “DTZ notes the recent movement in its share price and confirms that it has received a number of approaches for investment in the Company's shares (including a possible offer for the shares in the Company). The Company is holding discussions with the various parties who have made these approaches. The discussions are at a very preliminary stage. There can be no certainty that any structure will be progressed or that any offer will be ultimately made.”

While property services advice is DTZ’s core business, the firm, like rivals CBRE and JLL, also manages a real estate investment management business, DTZ Investment Management.

In Europe, under the leadership of Chris Cooper, DTZ IM manages approximately $2 billion of real estate on behalf of various third parties including pension funds, charities and other investors. In Asia, the firm last year hired ex-Citi Property Investors veteran David Schaefer to build another platform. The firm is also currently marketing a $400 million opportunity fund focussed on major gateway cities in the region.