Debt-laden British property consultancy DTZ, in which chief executive candidate Leung Chun-ying owns a stake, says it has sold itself to Australian diversified services firm UGL for GBP77.5 million (HK$938.6 million). DTZ shares have nosedived more than 99 per cent from their peak in 2006 following the recent years of global financial crises. The firm, which was the first real estate adviser to list on the London stock exchange in 1987, was delisted yesterday after an announcement that UGL had completed the acquisition of all its trading operations. As a result of its high level of debt, 'the transaction completed will realise no value for the ordinary shares' of the firm, DTZ said. DTZ had accumulated debts totalling GBP106 million, of which more than GBP25 million are due to mature next year. Media reports said Leung held 7 million DTZ shares and had lost HK$300 million as the stock plunged about 99 per cent from the peak of GBP8.35 a share in 2006, to 6.96 pence a share last Friday. The Australian-listed UGL's takeover of DTZ would help strengthen its presence in China. The merger of UGL's property service arm, UGL Services, and DTZ would boost the combined annual revenue to A$1.9 billion (HK$15.8 billion). UGL is a maintenance, facilities management, and engineering and construction firm. Besides property, the company also operates in the water, power, transport, communications and resources sectors. Richard Leupen, chief executive of UGL, said: 'After the acquisition, we will become one of the top three or four property consultancies in the world.' Revenue-wise, Leupen said the deal would bring UGL within striking distance of Cushman & Wakefield, the world's third largest property consultancy. CB Richard Ellis and Jones Lang LaSalle are the two biggest firms in the sector. 'We are not buying the business to lay people off,' said Leupen. 'We are buying the business for growth. Our experience in the past years has meant that we hire more people as long as it can drive growth.' DTZ, which operates in 145 cities across 43 countries, employs 4,500 people. Leupen said he hoped the DTZ acquisition would lead to annual revenue growth of at least 5 to 10 per cent. A UGL spokesman said DTZ would continue to operate under its name because of its strong brand. Leung, chairman of DTZ Asia- Pacific, welcomed the acquisition and expressed confidence in DTZ's future, which would be bolstered by its integration into UGL. Leung has resigned from DTZ and will officially leave before the end of next month. UGL, which employs about 53,000 people worldwide, has revenue of A$5.1 billion after its takeover of DTZ.