The restructuring will set commercial real-estate brokerage Colliers International up as an independent public company with revenues of $1.7 billion.
Shareholders of Toronto-based FirstService Corp. overwhelmingly approved a proposal on Tuesday to break up the company, freeing commercial real-estate brokerage Colliers International to ramp up its growth as an independent public company.
The restructuring, which is expected to close later this year, raises the profile of Colliers’ global headquarters in downtown Seattle at Two Union Square.
Colliers is a top-five commercial real-estate brand: Last year, it booked $59 million in net income on nearly $1.6 billion in revenue, according to unaudited financials FirstService filed with regulators last month. It directly employs more than 10,000 people in 41 countries; franchises and affiliates extend its footprint to a total of 67 nations.
“Colliers is the fastest-growing real-estate company in the world,” FirstService founder Jay Hennick told shareholders Tuesday at a special meeting that was webcast. The top five brokerages own about 15 percent of the $150 billion global market, he said, “leaving tons of room to grow.”
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He gave the example of the accounting industry, where the top five firms have 70 percent market share.
As part of the restructuring plan, which was first proposed in February, FirstService will be renamed Colliers International Group and will spin off as a separate company its residential-property services business, which includes managing apartment complexes and homeowners associations.
Hennick said the property-management business, North America’s largest, was “a cash-flow machine,” with $1.1 billion in revenue last year.
“Like Colliers, it operates in massive, highly fragmented markets, creating numerous opportunities for growth,” he said.
The commercial brokerage company traces its history to 1898, when a real-estate, property-management and insurance agency called Macaulay Nicolls was founded in Vancouver, B.C. An Australian property-services firm known as Colliers International merged with it in 1984.
Hennick came on the scene in 1989 as a teenager when he started Superior Pools, a swimming-pool management business. Hennick said FirstService, which went public in 1993, has delivered annualized returns of 20 percent for more than 20 years.
“Growing our share value by more than 40 times since our IPO is, as that great philosopher Austin Powers once said, ‘not too shabby,’ ” he said.
Colliers’ global headquarters moved from Vancouver to Seattle soon after Colliers in 2001 hired Doug Frye, a former Chicago executive at real-estate brokerage Grubb & Ellis, and subsequently named him its president and CEO.
In 2009, FirstService gained control of Colliers after acquiring some of its largest shareholders.
Frye will continue to serve as CEO of Colliers, Hennick said. Shares of both Colliers and FirstService will be listed on Nasdaq as well as the Toronto Stock Exchange.