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Cushman & Wakefield for sale?

Rumors have resurfaced in recent weeks about a possible sale of Cushman & Wakefield, the global real estate brokerage and services firm, by its parent company.

Insiders say such a move would surprise no one as majority owner Exor, the Italian investment giant, has wanted to unload the New York-based firm for several years. And there's now a market for a sale, sources said, with other players such as Avison Young and Newmark Grubb Knight Frank moving aggressively to grow their footprint.

Cushman has offices in East Rutherford, Edison and Morristown.

The sale was rumored last year, but one source said Exor has revisited the prospect in the last six months. The person pointed to Avison Young, the Canadian brokerage, which opened a New York office last year and hired former Cushman CEO Arthur J. Mirante III to oversee the operation.

“It would be natural to go ahead and see something get done with them,” the source said.

Exor, run by Italy's Agnelli family, acquired Cushman & Wakefield in 2006, but the company has grappled with increasing competition among brokerage houses and the effects of the real estate downturn.

 A challenge for Booker

It hasn't even been two full months since former Newark mayor Cory Booker was sworn in to the U.S. Senate. But since he's just serving out the term of the late Frank Lautenberg, Booker will have to run again next year if he wants to hold on to his seat.

Yet as it stands currently going into the new year, no Republican challenger has raised his or her hand to oppose Booker, leaving many to speculate if and when somebody will.

So who might? One insider says to watch for Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) or state Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) to make a move.

But while Kean, the Senate's minority leader, is still reeling from a disastrous showing by Republicans on Election Day and reported coup attempt by Gov. Christie to unseat him from his leadership position, Bramnick might have the better shot.

“That wouldn't surprise me,” the insider said of Bramnick entering the race.

A bill for developers

A bill currently floating around in the Legislature could provide the development community with an early holiday boost, one insider says.

The bill, which would authorize the state Department of Environmental Protection to offer extensions under certain circumstances for the remediation and cleanup of contaminated sites, was discussed at length by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee last week.

Under the bill, extensions would have to be applied for no later than March 7, 2014, and would be granted for up to two additional years for remediation projects.

But the direction the bill will take, especially in the middle of lame duck and before the holiday season, will be anyone's guess. Add on to that some disdain from some members of the environmental lobby.

But the insider says that by granting developers that extra stay, environmentalists and community members also benefit as previously blighted properties can be rehabbed rather than left to sit dormant.

“If we can turn an idle property around for productive use, then that's a win-win for everybody,” the insider said.

That especially rings true in urban areas, where new incentives recently implemented by the Economic Opportunity Act are driving developers.

Having DEP allow for more time to clean up a site “encourages people” to want to develop it, the insider said.

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Tom Bergeron at tomb@njbiz.com.

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