News: Savills Residential to merge with Huttons Asia

Sep 15, 2020

Marcus Loo, CEO of Savills Singapore. Photo: Savills Singapore.

Savills Residential, the associate’s arm of Savills Singapore, will merge with Huttons Asia, making it the latest consolidation among property agencies in Singapore, reported The Business Times (BT).

With the merger, Hutton’s current pool of 3,044 brokers will be strengthened by the 582 commission-only residential brokers of Savills being invited to join.

This would enhance the capabilities of Huttons in gaining the trust of developers to market their residential property projects for sale.

Savills Residential is wholly owned by Savills Singapore, which in turn is part of the UK-listed firm.

Savills South East Asia CEO Chris Marriott revealed that the terms of the merger have already been agreed, saying that the deal is expected to be completed this month. However, he declined to disclose the dollar value of the transaction.

“This integration with Huttons, a dominant local player, presents a fantastic opportunity for Savills’ residential associate brokers to access a larger marketplace, enabling them to participate in the large number of projects that Huttons is currently handling,” said Marcus Loo, Chief Executive Officer of Savills Singapore as quoted by BT.

The post-merger business will be trading as “Huttons – in association with Savills”. As the biggest shareholder of Huttons, Savills Singapore will be represented on Huttons Asia’s board by Marriott.

Savills is not currently represented on Huttons board.

A home-grown property agency, Huttons was set up in 2002, with Savills Singapore acquiring a stake within the company in 2005.

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Huttons Asia’s other shareholders include Peggy Ngiam and Loke Tuck Choy, who are both serving as executive directors. Ngiam also serves as Key Executive Officer, said the BT report.

Marriott shared that Savills had a long-standing interest in Huttons, adding that they “welcome the opportunity to take a more active position on the board and complement Huttons in their future growth in this important market”.

“The merger means that Savills Singapore will focus on its full service real estate business in Singapore, overseen by Marcus Loo,” he added.

In a joint statement, Huttons and Asia noted that the enhanced board will “focus on strengthening services to their clients… through a newly expanded agency force and access to international markets, in particular China”.

“In doing so, they will leverage on their PropTech and digital marketing knowledge, thereby broadening the opportunities for their brokers.”

Ngiam, on the other hand, said the “ability to draw on a globally recognised international residential brand will accelerate our growth as a leading agency in Singapore”.

After the merger, Huttons will continue to be the fourth biggest property agency, in terms of the number of property agents. It will have a total of 3,626 agents assuming all Savills Residential brokers come on board.

PropNex holds the top spot with 8,727 agents. ERA Realty Network came in second with 7,321 agents, followed by OrangeTee & Tie with 4,359 agents, said the BT report.

SRI is fifth, with 960 agents.

Market observers said the deal is unique since Savills Singapore is already the biggest shareholder of Huttons, added the BT report.

However, an industry player observed that Savills Residential has lost some agents lately, while Huttons has lost some of its shine over the last four or five years even as it has clinched major appointments.

“In a downturn, we can expect to see the smaller agencies (those with under 300 brokers) latching onto the bigger agencies, which have better resources and more opportunities to clinch residential project marketing appointments,” said SRI Co-founder Bruce Lye as quoted by BT. Lye expects the series of consolidation among property agents to continue.

The wave of consolidation includes the merger of PropNex with Dennis Wee Group in 2017.

That same year also saw OrangeTee’s associate’s arm and Edmund Tie & Company Property Network set up a joint-venture company – OrangeTee & Tie – to fend off competition.

ERA also entered into separate deals with HSR International Realtors and CBRE Realty Associates in 2018, to absorb their agents into ERA since these companies are shutting down.

PropNex also took over Global Alliance Property’s agents in 2019.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email victorkang@propertyguru.com.sg

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