TPG nears $1bn DTZ deal

Private equity firm close to buying UGL's property services business.

Private equity firm TPG is nearing a deal to buy DTZ for more than $1 billion and is considering a "significant role" in the real-estate services firm for Brett White, the former chief executive of CBRE Group, according to people familiar with the matter. 

The deal could be reached in coming days, the people said. DTZ, which operates in more than 50 countries, is a unit of Australian engineering company UGL (UGL).

The discussions remain fluid, and a deal isn't assured, one of the people cautioned. It isn't clear what role Mr White would play at DTZ if the acquisition by TPG is finalised.

The talks come as the global real-estate services business is showing strong growth in some parts of the world. Companies in those regions are leasing more space because they are becoming more confident. Also, yield-seeking investors are buying more commercial property, resulting in more brokerage commissions.

Shares in CBRE, the world's largest real-estate services firm, and JLL, another top player, are both trading near their 52-week highs.

UGL purchased U.K.-based DTZ in 2011 when the real-estate company was struggling financially. DTZ was placed in administration in the UK immediately before that deal.

UGL last year announced a "demerger" in which DTZ would be listed and operated on a stand-alone basis. Since then, the company also has considered selling DTZ. UGL has seen declining earnings from its engineering services as Australia's long mining boom has cooled.

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