Global property firm in SA acquisition

Johannesburg - Jones Lang LaSalle, one of the world's largest real estate services companies, is buying a South African rival for an undisclosed amount, its first step into the fast-growing continent.

The US real estate group said on Thursday that the acquisition of unlisted Bradford McCormack & Associates (BMA) provided a springboard for further expansion in South Africa and the region.

"The deal opens up accelerated business growth opportunities for both firms across South Africa and its neighbouring countries," the company said.

BMA's local clients include South Africa's biggest bank, Absa, global confectionery giant Nestle, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange  and several government departments.

Jones Lang LaSalle is the third major US-based company in recent months to have shown interest in sub-Saharan Africa's fast-growing markets.

Last week, Washington DC-based private equity group Carlyle said it planned to open offices in Johannesburg and Lagos and start investing in capital growth ventures and buyouts in the region.

US retailer Walmart Stores is in the middle of buying a controlling stake in South African retailer Massmart Holdings [JSE:MSM] for $2.3bn, though it is having problems convincing competition authorities.

Jones Lang LaSalle will compete in South Africa with Growthpoint Properties [JSE:GRT], the country's largest listed property firm, and Redefine Properties.

Earlier this month, a survey by property consultant DTZ found the amount of new capital available for investment in global real estate was $329bn, up 17% from a mid-2010 projection.

Capital earmarked for direct investment in the Americas rose 14% to $111bn, while in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) the pot was up just 2% to $114bn.
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