SANTA CLARA -- Cornish & Carey Commercial, an icon in local real estate, is being bought by a New York City brokerage company in a deal that is expected to lead to more growth for the Bay Area realty firm, Cornish Chairman Scott Carey told this newspaper Tuesday.
BGC Partners, a Manhattan-based brokerage company that serves the wholesale financial and real estate markets, is buying the independent commercial realty firm, which was launched in 1935.
"We will operate under the name Newmark Cornish & Carey under the agreement," Carey said in an interview. "There will probably be expansion as a result of this."
Cornish & Carey has been one of the dominant players in Silicon Valley and has arranged several high-profile deals, including major expansions for Google (GOOG) and other tech firms. The company's revenue totaled $135 million in 2012. According to Carey, revenue was "roughly the same" in 2013. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
The deal comes at a time of some consolidation among commercial real estate firms. In 2012, Grubb & Ellis filed for bankruptcy as part of a prearranged deal to sell its assets to the same BGC Partners that is buying Cornish & Carey.
Santa Clara-based Cornish & Carey already had a licensing agreement with a subsidiary of BGC, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. The deal will bring the local company into the BGC fold as a fully owned subsidiary.
"Our partnership with Cornish & Carey has been tremendously successful," said Barry Gosin, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank CEO. "We now have an even greater ability to provide clients in the important Northern California marketplace the complete array of our services."
Cornish & Carey has all of its offices in Northern California, including 10 in the Bay Area and two in the Sacramento region. The company aligned itself originally with Newmark to be able to access international clients that sought property deals and leases in the Bay Area. The Newmark firm, in turn was able to gain access to the Bay Area market.
Although Cornish & Carey is being purchased by an East Coast financial services firm, the commercial realty firm believes it will benefit greatly under a new owner.
"Their intention is to let us run our own shop," Carey said. "They will preserve our identity, culture and our philosophy." Carey described the company's management approach as an open-door policy that gives agents direct access to the principal executives. Carey said he will remain as Cornish chairman after the deal is complete, and current company president Chuck Seufferlein will retain that title.
Employees will be given the opportunity to obtain an equity interest in the new company, Carey said.
The company was founded as a residential real estate brokerage by Carey's uncle, George "Pat" Carey, a Stanford University student. In 1969, Scott Carey, a lawyer by trade, joined the firm to engineer a major upgrade of a tiny commercial real estate operation within the parent realty firm. Other entrepreneurs, Marc Davis and Mike Brand, were brought on board in the initial stages to lead recruiting and office expansions. The firm's original offices were in Palo Alto and Sunnyvale, Carey said.
"Our target markets for expansion will be Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego, for starters," Carey said.
Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167. twitter.com/georgeavalos