New owners of ERA’s S’pore franchise eye stock listing

Private equity firm Northstar Group, which has led a management buyout of the ERA Real Estate franchise here, said yesterday it aims to list the property brokerage on the Singapore Exchange within the next two to three years, moves that signal growing interest in the city’s real estate market.

If successful, it would be the first listing by a real estate brokerage in the city, a spokesperson from the Singapore Exchange confirmed.

Northstar is also in the process of acquiring the master franchise rights for ERA Real Estate in 17 other Asia- Pacific countries such as China and Malaysia, subject to approval from the master franchisor, US real-estate brokerage Realogy Holdings, it said.

Northstar, through newly-incorporated unit Realty Partners, is paying about S$130 million to purchase Singapore’s biggest property broker from Hersing Corp, a source familiar with the deal told Reuters. Northstar did not disclose the price.

“We are working on a share ownership programme which will allow senior ERA agents to participate in the long-term growth of the company,” said Mr Ashish Shastry, Managing Partner of Northstar, in a joint statement with Hersing.

“We aim to re-list ERA as a ‘pure-play’ real estate brokerage firm on the Singapore Exchange, within the next two to three years,” he added.

Hersing — a manager of regional franchises in businesses ranging from real-estate brokering to children’s furnishings, including Hong Kong dim sum restaurant Tim Ho Wan — was delisted from the Singapore Exchange in November after its founder and chairman Harry Chua took the company private.

Mr Jack Chua, who has been with Hersing group for more than two decades, is leading the group of senior ERA executives who are co-investing with Northstar in the ERA business.

The industry veteran has been instrumental in growing ERA’s business together with Hersing Chairman Harry Chua, who brought the franchise into Singapore in 1982, the joint statement said.

The ERA acquisition marks Northstar’s first foray into the local real estate brokerage industry. The brokerage, which has more than 5,100 sales agents, completed over 44,000 property transactions worth S$22.3 billion here last year.

Source : Today – 8 Aug 2013

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