When Savills SVS.LN -0.08% PLC acquired Studley Inc. earlier this year for $260 million, executives of the merged company predicted a wide range of benefits from aligning the 159-year-old London-based company with the scrappy New York-based brokerage.
Now that prediction is being tested with the sale of a London office tower known as the Gherkin for its pickle-like shape. The receiver that controls the property on behalf of five European creditors earlier this summer hired Savills's London office and Deloitte Real Estate to sell the 40-story tower with the price tag expected to be in the $1.1 billion range.
Last week, a Savills-Deloitte team was in New York and being led around town by Woody Heller, the head of property sales for what now has been renamed Savills Studley. The team had more than 20 meetings with interested parties about the Gherkin, whose formal name is 30 St. Mary Axe.
Stephen Down, head of central London for Savills, said Mr. Heller "opened doors" that might have been closed to them without the Studley connection. "With a deal of this size you want to meet the people who make the decisions," he said.
To be sure, U.S. investors aren't the only ones being approached in the Gherkin sales effort. Investors from the Middle East, Asia and other parts of the world also are in the mix.
But Savills Studley's efforts to market trophy properties like the Gherkin in the U.S. may help to accomplish another goal of the merger: elevating Studley and Mr. Heller's profile on the global property sales stage.
Studley, which is best known for representing tenants in office leases, poached Mr. Heller from the company now named CBRE Group Inc. in 2003 to start a sales group. Since then, Mr. Heller's team at Studley has brokered more than 60 deals valued at more than $8.5 billion. He has twice won the Real Estate Board of New York's coveted Most Ingenious Deal of the Year award.
Still, until now, Studley has lagged behind the two top New York firms in commercial property sales: Eastdil Secured and CBRE. Over the years, those two firms have continued to do the biggest deals and rake in the highest commissions.
Maybe not much longer, Mr. Heller said. "The intent of the acquisition is to change that," he said.Gherkin Building Gets a Big Apple Push
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