Phew! Thank goodness that’s over. Finally, I don’t have to keep calling BNP Paribas Real Estate (BNP PRE) and Strutt & Parker every day to ask if they have actually sealed the deal yet. On Monday, the year-long, on-off bromance between BNP PRE’s John Slade and Strutts’ Andy Martin became official.
So now what? Well, there are those, such as a couple of rival agency bosses I spoke to this week, who believe the deal is going to do little other than make two “small agencies slightly less small”.
But whatever the whys and wherefores of the deal, now is the time to look to the future.
As we were told this week, Martin will take up the role of BNP PRE’s UK boss, while industry veteran Slade is yet to agree a role. For this deal to be considered a success five years down the line, it is crucial Slade is found a position where he can drive BNP PRE’s expansion in Europe and beyond.
Nearly two years ago, Property Week’s editor Liz Hamson sat down for lunch with Slade. During lunch, while he ate lobster and she tucked into a steak, he said he was on a mission to develop BNP PRE into a top-five UK agency.
While the Strutts takeover has boosted BNP PRE’s position in the agency league, the firm is still only in seventh place and would need to add £120m or so to its revenues to seize fifth spot from Knight Frank. More investment will be required to make that happen, a lot more.
Following BNP Paribas Real Estate’s PRE’s (BNP PRE’s) takeover of Strutt & Parker, announced earlier this week, the new combined entity will boast a combined UK revenue of just over £180m, making it the UK’s seventh largest agency. This would place it ahead of Capita Property and Infrastructure, Deloitte Real Estate and Colliers International, but £6m behind GVA, according to Property Week’s Agency 2017 survey. The deal is expected to complete in late September.
If BNP PRE can hold onto Slade and give him a role in the wider international business, it could benefit the UK business as much as the group. In today’s real estate market, having a global presence is a big plus. Firms with offices across the world are best placed to land mandates from big international companies.
Considering that 99% of its revenues are generated in Europe, BNP PRE is not a truly global firm by any stretch of the imagination, but there is no reason it can’t be if its owners at the French banking giant give it the support to venture across a few oceans, both east and west, in search of some really big fish.
And who knows, Slade could catch his own lobster dinner on his travels.
Are the Tories ‘borrowing’ from Labour again?
When trawling through the 29,798 words of the Conservative Manifesto published ahead of that pointless election earlier this summer, I noticed something was missing. It was three little words: ‘Help to Buy’.
So it should come as little surprise to those of us who like to count the words in dull political documents that the Tories are considering an overhaul of the policy.
Whatever the government decides to do with the scheme, it needs to come up with something that encourages far more homes to be built, not just in the tens of thousands, but in the hundreds of thousands - and fast. Then it won’t have to create an artificial market because more homes means lower prices for those who need to buy or rent them. How can that be so hard to figure out?