Zurich Inks Euro-Deal With CB Richard Ellis

Zurich Financial Services Group has picked CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. as a provider of a variety of real estate services for the company in Europe, including transaction management and strategic consulting. The deal represents the first time that Zurich has hired a single service provider for Europe. The agreement covers a 6 million-square-foot portfolio encompassing 520 offices in nine countries–Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The contract reflects a further expansion of CBRE;s Global Corporate Services business, which added 16 new corporate accounts during the first half of 2008. Zurich Financial is a doyen of the insurance industry, having been founded in 1872. Headquartered in its namesake city of Zurich, Switzerland, the company currently spans the globe with subsidiaries and offices in North America and Europe as well as in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and other markets. The deal comes at a time of uncertainty in European property markets. According to a recent survey released by RICS Global Commercial Property–and as reported exclusively by CPN last week–of the more than 50 countries it surveyed, seven of the 10 worst-performing countries were located in Western Europe. The most negative sentiment towards property prices for Q308 were expected in Ireland and Spain. “Market activity is subdued with a mismatch of buyer and seller expectations, compounded by a severe lack of funding in the market place,” noted John Moran of Jones Lang LaSalle in Ireland, as a contributor to the survey. Regarding the Spanish commercial real estate market, David Brown of Savills had this to say in the survey: “Spanish property companies (both listed and private) are net sellers, but many have been reluctant to sell at below-historic price levels. Secondary properties and locations are facing the biggest yield re-correction.”