Cushman & Wakefield


Cushman & Wakefield is the largest provider of real estate-related services in South America. It is one of the largest full-service commercial real estate services firms in the world. Its Semco joint venture, which lasted from 1994 to 2007 is one of the most productive that Semco has undertaken. Indeed, it is one of the decisive factors in Semco’s explosive growth in those years.

In the 1990s Brazil didn’t have companies offering properties management services as they existed in U.S. Most of the Brazilian market was not yet outsourced — and when they were, it was with small mom-and-pop companies. Semco believed that there was an opportunity to bring one of the leading players in this sector to Brazil and they identified Cushman and Wakefield, where I was then CEO. We entered into a joint venture with Semco in 1994 with zero employees and Semco sold its stake as planned to Cushman in 2006, when we had more than 3,000 employees. The timing was right for the joint venture, as several big Brazilian companies, like banks and retailers, started outsourcing non-core activities. We were able to capture a lot of market share and our company became a leader in the sector in Brazil.

— Arthur J. Mirante II
Principal & Tri-State President
Avison Young
Former Chief Executive Officer at Cushman & Wakefield

Our relationship with Semco lasted for 15 years. We grew our joint venture from a startup to several thousand employees. The timing was right. Semco identified the opportunity, well before the explosion of growth in the Brazilian market. When we started, we faced challenges in this immature market, including a lack of transparency, significant inflation, and changing labor rules. But Semco was extremely knowledgeable, had solid business relationships, and strong marketing. Their CEO then was Ricardo Semler; he was very progressive — in many ways, ahead of his time. He was very dynamic; challenged the status quo; and we learned a lot about entering emerging markets, working closely with his team. Back then most of our clients were Brazilian companies and today the market is far more diversified. Today we provide services to a large group of Brazilian companies as well as many multinational companies, all staffed and run by Brazilians. It has been quite a success story.

— John C. Santora
President, CEO, Corporate Occupier & Investor Services
Cushman & Wakefield