New Player Enters for Grubb & Ellis

Bloomberg News
Howard Lutnick, chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald

By Eliot Brown and Kris Hudson

In the race to control Grubb & Ellis Co., there’s a new big name circling over the commercial real estate services firm: Howard Lutnick.

BGC Partners LP, an affiliate of Mr. Lutnick’s Cantor Fitzgerald, on Monday signed a two-week exclusivity agreement with Grubb & Ellis to potentially purchase or recapitalize the struggling Los Angeles-based company, according to a Grubb & Ellis securities filing and a person familiar with the matter.

The agreement with the affiliate of Cantor, which has been growing its real estate investments and bought brokerage Newmark Knight Frank, comes as Grubb & Ellis saw a similar agreement with two other opportunistic investors fizzle.

An exclusivity agreement with C-III Investments LLC, which focuses on distressed real estate and is led by Andrew Farkas, and Colony Capital LLC, run by Tom Barrack, expired on Sunday without a deal.

No deal materialized, in part, because of the complexity of the deal and multiple layers of creditors, a person familiar with the deal said.

Of course, it couldn’t hurt Grubb to strike a deal sooner rather than later with any of its suitors. The company on Jan. 3 was de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange because its market capitalization had fallen below $15 million.

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