Sears, Roebuck and Co. has announced the sale of its Coldwell Banker commercial real estate business to a management group and a group of outside investors for an undisclosed sum.
Coldwell Banker is one of the nation's largest commercial real estate firms, with 1988 gross revenues of more than $460 million.Sears said the sale was part of its corporate restructuring plan to strengthen its consumer operations. Sears will retain ownership of the Coldwell Banker residential real estate business and of the Coldwell Banker name.
The outside investors include Frederick V. Malek of Washington; the Carlyle Group, a Washington-based merchant banking firm; and a group of prominent U.S. and Japanese investors, Sears said. Financing is being arranged by Sumitomo Bank and Bankers Trust Co.
James J. Didion, the Los Angeles-based unit's chairman, said he will remain in his post, as will other top managers. Under terms of the deal, the company's 4,990 employees will all be invited to participate in the ownership and could end up holding as much as 50 percent.
Coldwell employs 31 sales, leasing and management personnel in Salt Lake City.
Bill Chillingworth, manager of the Salt Lake office, said that while management will take charge of daily business, clients won't notice a difference. "We have a terrific operation here and it will remain business as usual."
The future of the real estate firm's local presence was uncertain when Sears announced in October that it planned to sell the Coldwell Banker Commercial Group.
Didion told the Los Angeles Times that the commercial group will be allowed to use the Coldwell Banker name for three years. In the meantime, the new owners "will develop a new identity and new logo," a spokesman said.
He said the company is "excited by the opportunity of being independent again" and plans to accelerate its most recent growth plan, formulated in 1988.