New York (Feb. 2, 2004) -- Regional accounting powerhouse J.H. Cohn has entered into a joint venture with BBK LLP to form Cohn Real Estate LLC, a commercial real estate consulting firm.

Barry Barovick, who most recently served as chief executive of Northbrook, Ill.-based Grubb & Ellis and previously headed up Ernst & Young’s real estate practice, serves as CEO of the new entity. Liz Kulik, formerly chief strategy officer at Grubb & Ellis, serves as chief operating officer. Michael Berne serves as senior executive vice president responsible for the firm’s industry specialty groups. All three are principals of Cohn Real Estate.

The New York-based entity also currently has offices in New Jersey, Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The group, which has a staff of 15, will have space in all of J.H. Cohn’s locations and will also open offices outside of the CPA firm, according to J.H. Cohn chief marketing officer Sally Glick.

Glick said the venture is an extension of the accounting firm’s strong real estate niche, which provides tax and audit services. “Our goal is always to bring clients the full complement of services they need to be good at their businesses,” she said. “Our clients are growing and maturing. Real estate is a bigger issue for them.”

“We looked for a platform with which we could partner that would afford us an infrastructure and that had a disciplined relationship to business,” said Kulik. “What better environment than an accounting firm?”

“Every business touches real estate, either as an owner, an occupier or an operator,” said Kulik. “Our goal is to align the real estate with the business goals. Real estate is the second highest balance sheet item of any business.”

Kulik said the practice, which launched at the end of December, focuses on four sectors: health care, public and government, sports and entertainment, and financial and professional services. The group provides advisory services, financial services, technology solutions, transaction management and management outsourcing.

Kulik said that because the real estate consulting practice is global in scope and its focus extends beyond the middle market -- J.H. Cohn’s target market -- most of its clients come from outside of the accounting firm’s client base. She noted that the firm has already signed deals with several Fortune 500 companies.

-- Melissa Klein

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