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Bid approaches may benefit Sherry FitzGerald

Sherry FitzGerald may benefit from takeover approaches which would affect both its commercial property agency as well as its London residential agency.

Both international estate agency DTZ and a French property company Saint George Participations (SGP) have announced to the London stock exchange that they were in discussions.

The DTZ move coincides with completely unrelated reports that Sherry FitzGerald's London residential estate agency, Marsh and Parsons, may be sold following approaches to the company.

One report suggested that Marsh and Parsons may be worth €68m which would value Sherry FitzGerald's 72pc stake at over €49m. M&P has appointed Cavendish, the corporate finance firm, to advise on its options.

Sherry FitzGerald is also the majority 80pc shareholder in the Irish commercial property consultancy DTZ Sherry FitzGerald, and only 20pc is held by the international DTZ firm . The family-run SGP stated that it is having preliminary discussions with BNP Paribas in relation to the DTZ moves.. "At this stage there is no certainty that an offer will be made by SGP for the company or as to the terms of any offer," SGP added.

As SGP already owns 55pc of the global DTZ, its move is seen as the precursor to buying out the minority shareholders and then selling the company on to the French financial services multinational BNP.

SGP built up its majority shareholding in DTZ in 2008 by taking advantage of the recent property crash and an emergency rights issue which DTZ undertook to raise funds and reduce debt.

The Daily Telegraph said last week that SGP was considering making a takeover offer worth around 60 pence a share, which would value DTZ at around £162m (€185m).DTZ in its statement said it is holding preliminary discussions with various parties who have made approaches.

It added: "There can be no certainty that any structure will be progressed or that any offer will be ultimately made."

Fintan Tierney heads DTZ Sherry FitzGerald. Mr Tierney joined the firm after DTZ SF acquired the estate agency which he established with Sean O'Neill. That acquisition followed Mr Tierney's development of a strong network of Irish and international clients in the retail sector. These include a number of shopping centres such as The Square in Tallaght.

Patrick Curran heads BNP Paribas Real Estate's Dublin office which is 100pc controlled by its French parent.

While a takeover would usually see the acquiring brand replace the acquired one, this does not always apply and, depending on the strength of the DTZ brand, BNP may consider retaining the two agencies at least for some years.

DTZ is a global property consultancy employing around 4,500 people and has a large presence in the fast-growing Asian market. Its strength in the UK and Canadian markets are also expected to appeal to BNP.

Irish Independent