Property partners' merger windfalls

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The Independent Online
MORE THAN 350 partners in Jones Lang Wootton, the property agents, will each pocket shares worth pounds 615,000 on average next year if a planned merger with the Chicago-based LaSalle Partners goes ahead. A similar number of senior employees will get share windfalls worth almost pounds 100,000 each

The firms plan to create Jones Lang LaSalle, a company listed on the London stock exchange and worth pounds 530m at current prices. The merged business will have annual revenues of around $800m, (pounds 470m), property worth more than pounds 11.8bn under management and employ 6,300 people worldwide.

JLW has 4,000 staff in 87 offices in 32 countries around the world. It earned $436m last year, made profits of pounds 28m before interest and tax and managed property worth $6bn.

LaSalle has 2,300 employees, mainly in the US. It has property worth more than $14bn under management and earned $318m last year. LaSalle floated last year and issued 16.2 million shares, 44 per cent of them held by directors and staff. These shares now trade at around $30.

LaSalle will issue up to 14.3 million new shares, of which 12.3 million will go to JLW's 355 partners, plus a further 1.8 million shares to be shared among 350 senior employees below partner rank. Individual holdings are not yet being disclosed, JLW's chief executive officer, Christopher Peacock, said.

The new shares cannot be sold within a year and will be lost if holders leave the company before then. Although JLW's revenues are larger, LaSalle has been slightly more profitable.

LaSalle's Stuart Scott will become chairman and chief executive of the joint company. Mr Peacock becomes president and deputy chief executive. The operational headquarters will be in London, while the holding company will remain in Chicago along with the investment management company.

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