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Aon buying Townsend

Aon has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire real estate investment management and consulting firm The Townsend Group for $475 million.

Aon, in a news release Sept. 1, said the acquisition would boost its offerings in alternative investments. Townsend, majority owned by Colony NorthStar, advises on $175.7 billion in global assets and manages $14.5 billion in assets, the release said. Aon said its investment group manages more than $100 billion of worldwide assets and advises on $4.2 trillion.

Subject to certain purchase price adjustments, the transaction is expected to close in the next six months.

Colony NorthStar expects to receive net proceeds of about $379 million after transaction and other expenses, according to a separate Colony NorthStar release. NorthStar, the predecessor to Colony NorthStar, acquired it’s a roughly 84% interest in Townsend in January 2016 for $383 million.

Colony NorthStar executives declined to comment beyond the release, said Caroline Luz, Colony NorthStar spokeswoman, in an email.

"Townsend is a terrific non-core legacy NorthStar business, but by the closing of the Colony Capital/NorthStar merger in January of this year, it became clear that the market perceived a conflict with Colony's institutional investment management business," said Richard B. Saltzman, president and CEO of Colony NorthStar, in the firm's release.

Mr. Saltzman added Colony NorthStar's sale of Townsend to Aon "is a winning outcome" for all three firms.

Maurissa Kanter, Aon spokeswoman, could not be immediately reached for comment.