By Gail Kalinoski, Contributing Editor
A year after being named chairman of the board of Cushman & Wakefield Inc., Carlo Barel di Sant’Albano is gearing up to take on another challenge for the world’s largest privately held commercial real estate services firm as he becomes CEO of the firm’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The appointment takes effect July 1, when Paul Bacon, the current CEO of Cushman’s EMEA operations, steps down from that role. Bacon, who has been with the firm since 1984 when it was Healey & Baker, is leaving Cushman in 2013 to start his own company. Until then, Bacon will continue to be a member of Cushman’s EMEA Board and as chair of the boards for Italy, France, Russia and Germany. Bacon will work closely with Sant’Albano on key strategic initiatives.
“(He) has led our EMEA operations during one of the most challenging periods for the real estate industry and during his long career has made an outstanding contribution to the firm,” Glenn Rufrano, global president & CEO of Cushman, said. “We are well positioned to continue growing our business in the EMEA and I look forward to working with (Sant’Albano) and our EMEA board as we execute our growth strategy in the region.”
Bacon said, “It has been a privilege to have played a major role in the growth and expansion of the firm over many years into the leading global force Cushman & Wakefield is today.”
Sant’Albano, formerly the CEO of EXOR, Cushman’s majority holder, has been a member of Cushman’s board of directors since 2007. He was instrumental in EXOR’s acquisition of the major stake in Cushman in March 2007. Since that time, he has been responsible for strategic oversight and implantation of the firm’s global growth plan. Sant’Albano is based out of Cushman’s European headquarters in London. He is a graduate of Brown University and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. His background includes a 20-year investment banking career with firms such as Credit Suisse.
When Sant’Albano was appointed chairman last year, Rufrano cited his “broad international experience, deep client relationships and strong investment background.” Those assets will be even more important as Cushman continues executing its five-year global plan.
In recent months, Cushman has been beefing up its staffing throughout Europe. On March 2, it announced it was expanding its European debt advisory team. In late February, the firm made two senior appointments to its London team, hiring Digby Flower and Andrew Parker from CBRE. Both joined Cushman as partners, with Flower heading up London markets and Parker running the City of London Agency. A day later, the company named two senior directors and partners to jointly lead its property and asset management business in Germany. Nina Jansen is based in Dusselfdorf and Andreas Gast is located in Frankfurt. Both were hired from Jones Lang LaSalle.
Europe is a challenging market now with the sovereign and debt crisis continuing to weaken the economy. But Cushman’s Global Economic Pulse report released Thursday noted that there could be mildly positive growth by the second half of this year.
“While it remains incredibly hard to predict what may happen, the commitment of governments and institutions to resolve the sovereign debt crisis looks increasingly sufficient to keep the Eurozone intact – at least for now,” said David Hutchings, partner and head of Cushman’s European Research Group.
The report cites the Asia Pacific region as “one of the bright spots in the challenging global environment.”
“Increasing intra-regional trade, plus continued economic strength among the region’s powerhouses of China, Indonesia and India should support relatively good growth in the Asia Pacific region,” said Sigrid Zialcita, managing director of research for Cushman’s Asia Pacific region.
While the report noted an overall mixed forecast for markets in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific, Rufrano said, “There is now a growing sense of constrained optimism, and we anitciapte the global economy to strengthen during the second half of 2012.”