Rivals are convinced that Cushman & Wakefield chief executive, Bruce Mosler, was kicked upstairs to co-chairman two weeks ago by the Italian owners who want to take a firmer grip on the loss-making business. An interview with the jovial 52-year old in the New York Times today does little to dispel that view. "If being kicked upstairs is continuing in the role until we find the right person... and going back to what you're passionate about, then that's O.K."
Rivals are also convinced that the Agnelli family, which controls 68% of the world's third-largest agent through a company called Exor, is seeking what might be called the DTZ solution. In other words "the right person" will be a grim-faced banker like Paul Idzik, the former chief operating officer of Barclays who is now doing his damndest to turn around DTZ into a profit-making business.
Unlike DTZ, C&W suffers ( or benefits) from a lack of transparency in its accounting. But the few brief lines devoted to C&W in the Exor accounts show the 15,000-strong business lost £46m in the first half of 2009 on top of a small loss last year - and that Exor had to provide a $50m loan instead of reaping profits on the purchase made in 2006.
It would be nice to think that a new CEO would usher in a new era of financial transparency. But with an Italian parent, don't bank on it. What is more likely to happen is that Mosler's go-for growth policy that was dashed by The Crash will be replaced by a crawl for profits. If the guys at C&W in the UK want to know what this means - ask the guys at DTZ. It's much less fun.