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DTZ hit with bid approach and legal row

Published on February 17th, 2014

DTZ is hitting the headlines in double fashion today, with news of a bid approach and a lawsuit from its disgruntled former chief executive.

Australian support services company UGL, which bought DTZ in 2011, said it was mulling over an unsolicited approach for DTZ,  which UGL had previously committed to demerging and listing separately.

At the same time, UGL is fighting claims by former DTZ CEO Robert Shibuya that he was sacked for drawing attention to UGL “misstating financial results and manipulating employee bonuses so as to deceive investors’’. UGL described the claims as “baseless” and pledged to fight the action.

Scandalous stuff! And will Bob Shibuya’s claim, filed in a US court last week, put off the potential buyer? And who might that buyer be? Of the big agents, DTZ probably has the best fit with Cushman & Wakefield, due to Cushman’s strength in the US.

However, another support services company or a private equity player might be interested.  UGL said today that DTZ revenue increased 18% to A$1.09bn in the six months to December 31, with strong performance from the North Asia and UK businesses.

For DTZ staff, it will be an unwelcome return to uncertain times. A demerger and separate listing would have left the firm in charge of its own destiny once more.

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