CBRE’s Sulentic Takes Over CFO Spot as Firm Faces Struggling Market

Robert Sulentic, CEO of CB Richard Ellis Inc.’s development services business, has been pushed up the ladder to the company’s CFO position as the company navigates the waters of the struggling commercial real estate industry. Sulentic replaces Kenneth Kay, who in November of last year, resigned his post of six years to become CFO of Las Vegas Sands Corp.Speaking to CPN, a CBRE spokesperson confirmed that the company engaged in a full search to fill the CFO position. Sulentic (pictured), who boasts over a quarter-century of real estate industry experience under his belt, emerged as the best man for the job. Before he took on the role of CBRE’s CEO of development services, a job that will remain on his plate, he held the title of group president of CBRE’s EMEA and Asia Pacific operations. Sulentic originally became a part of the CBRE team after CBRE’s 2006, $2.2 billion acquisition of Trammell Crow Co., where he had served as CFO before becoming the company’s CEO. He had been with Trammell Crow since 1984, when he joined the firm as an industrial leasing agent. With Sulentic’s elevation to CFO, Gil Borok, who had been serving as interim CFO since Kay’s departure, will return to his post as executive vice president, chief accounting offer, and will also take on the position of CFO of CBRE’s Americas business. Additionally, CBRE announced that Jim Groch, chief investment officer for Development Services and a former Trammell Crow executive, will take on the newly created position of chief investment officer overseeing corporate finance and strategy. Groch will be charged with, among other tasks, managing the company’s capital structure and balance sheet, as well as supervising merger and acquisition activities. He will also continue his responsibilities as chief investment officer for development services. Los Angeles-headquartered CBRE, in terms of 2008 revenue, remains the largest commercial real estate services concern in the world. Still, the company has not escaped the effects of the economy’s downward spiral. As per CBRE’s recently released fourth quarter 2008 earnings report, the company saw $5.1 billion in revenue in 2008, compared to $6 billion in 2007. “The strength of our people and platform enabled us to gain new clients and build market share across the business in 2008, despite extremely challenging global economic conditions,” Brett White, CBRE president & CEO of CB Richard Ellis, noted in a prepared statement upon the release of the report. “The credit crunch and global economic weakness pose serious challenges for our industry in 2009, and as such, we will continue to manage our business carefully to sustain profitability in a market where property sales and leasing activity remains highly constrained.”