Koll – protecting tenant’s rights

The Koll Group represents a tenant or a buyer’s best interests in negotiating against landlords or sellers; it is paid by the tenant or the buyer, based on performance, and the more money it saves its clients, and the more benefits it accrues for its client, the better the fee. It’s the opposite model of the traditional real estate agent, or landlord broker, where they are paid a fee by the building owners, and rely on owners internationally for the bulk of their revenues.

Koll believes that the exclusive tenant representation model is the only way to avoid conflicts of interest, and achieve the best deal for the tenant, who, after all, is the one that’ll be paying for the premises for years to come. Koll does not represent landlords in any aspect of their business.

Koll does however represent buyers of property when they are looking for development sites such as hospitals, offices or hotels, either to occupy themselves or as an investment. Then Koll will assist in finding the best sites and structuring the right purchase or lease deal for the investor. Koll will provide contacts, advisory services, feasibility reports and carry out and consult on due diligence on: the land title, the local demographics, market conditions and comparatives as well as the likely financial projections into the future – this is what Koll is doing in Burma now.

Koll’s Managing Director is Simon Milliard. He came to Bangkok in 1991, working for Christiani & Neilsen, which is where he met his wife, who was also working for the company at the time (his dad just happened to be the CEO). Simon worked in the business development side of the company focusing on Asia, and in 1994 moved to Vietnam, opening Christian & Neilsen’s office in Saigon, quickly established five property development sites in the country. His responsibilities included market research, feasibility studies and working with ING Barings, Freshfields and PWC compiling a very detailed prospectus for investors. Once complete, Simon and the Harmony team planned and presented to potential funders throughout the Asian region. The Harmony property portfolio was due to be listed in Canada, but the Asian economic crisis in 1997 saw the investors’ appetite for further investment in the Harmony Property Group dry up.  The main players in the Harmony Group were Christiani & Neilson and Siam Commercial Bank’s Saturn Fund.

Diageo Bangkok.

In 1997, Simon switched jobs and joined the East Asia Property Group, as their marketing and leasing director. The Group developed The Metropolitan office tower in Saigon and Simon says, “I still think it’s one of the best buildings in Southeast Asia.” It’s a grade-A office building, located on the Cathedral Square, where the HSBC has its HQ, opposite the Ministry of Culture at the very top of Dong Khoi Street, Saigon’s most famous shopping street. Simon was in charge of the marketing and leasing for the building until 1999 when his position was localized. Luckily for him, Nike Vietnam, the country’s biggest international tenant at the time, contacted him about renting at the Metropolitan (they were at the Landmark then), Simon told them that he was now on his own and representing tenants (luckily for them!), but that he could save them US$3-5 million over a five-year period and move them to better premises. Nike was so happy with the results and the methodology that they then asked him to do Nike Guangzhou and, after that, Nike Bangkok (Koll has also carried out projects in Taipei, the Philippines, & throughout Indochina and South-East Asia).

The Koll Group was formed through a merger with Alpha Management Services Ltd and Koll (Thailand) Ltd in 2001. Although Koll (Thailand) Ltd. and Alpha were formerly “full service” real estate service providers, both companies specialized in corporate real estate services to a MNC client base. This synergy between the two led to Koll becoming the region’s first and only “exclusively” tenant/buyer representation company.

Simon was in Vietnam full time for 12 years, where he and his wife also ran a Thai restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City; but Simon felt that Thailand was his home. He speaks Thai, his wife is Thai, and his son his half Thai; so they came back to Thailand to live in 2006.

Simon explains exactly what Koll does, “We do a needs analysis in terms of budget, space and operation requirements, and then put together a spread sheet, and compare costs per square metre with a quality score for each building and then we establish an overall value for money score. We disqualify buildings that don’t make a high enough score.”

Koll factors in things like electricity, space efficiency, fit-out costs, management and legal fees, lift speeds (how many hours are wasted waiting for the lift?), how close is the building to public transport, what does visitor and staff car parking cost, basically, every possible cost you can imagine.

Nike Bangkok brainstorming room.

Simon will help each tenant pick four or five key factors for the quality analysis; these could be; quality of building management, image, security, or health & safety. Technical issues are very important; He cites “sick building syndrome”, as an example, where the building doesn’t have enough ventilation or enough fresh air coming in, so the same stale air goes around and around the building and people get sick, or the hygiene in the air-conditioning system isn’t properly monitored so people can conceivably get Legionnaire’s Disease. When it comes to the CCTV system, for example, Simon will check how many cameras are monitored, by whom, if there are motion detectors, and how long the recordings are kept? Simon also checks if the company rotates its security guards regularly and he says if the company doesn’t give him answers or proper access to data, he will give them the worst score possible in the analysis. He also interviews other tenants and asks them what they think is good and bad about the building in question from their experience on the premises.

Simon says he looks at the commercial aspects of a lease agreement in much more detail than a landlord agent will, looking at things like expansion clauses, which allow clients to expand within a certain period of time, allowing them to pay the same rate as the original lease, or less if the market’s dropped. He also does contraction and renewal clauses, capping maximum rent increases.

The client must have flexibility in their lease. If they get stuck and need to expand too quickly the building could conceivably charge them double the rent. Simon tries to legislate against that in the lease by being as flexible as possible. There’s usually a term in the lease, if the owner doesn’t perform, the tenant doesn’t have to pay.

Koll is part of ITRA (the International Tenant Representatives Alliance) Global. This is an international tenant representation organization, and Koll is its only member in Asia. ITRA has a stringent set of membership criteria, and prior to acceptance Simon had to fly to London and do a presentation in front of the entire group at their international conference. There’s no legislation in Asia to protect tenants. As far as Simon knows, Koll is the only company doing exclusively tenant/buyer representation in this part of the world; the company is certainly the only fully accredited member of ITRA Global in the region.

Nike Bangkok corridor.

Simon has nine staff in Bangkok, and three in Vietnam, including an office manager, and soon he will have an office in Myanmar. He does 95 percent of the negotiating himself, and only takes on two or three major clients a year. Simon did the TCCC relocation to its latest location in the Sethiwan Tower on Pan Road; it was the smallest job he has ever done. With Simon, the size of the retail space doesn’t matter so much, but for office space he’d prefer to do a minimum size of 250sqm. That said, if the company has a good brand, he’d consider taking the job, especially if it has multiple office locations.

Summing up, Simon says, “I can’t think of another industry where you would allow the competition’s representative to represent your best interests, and the worst job he did for you the more he gets paid, which is exactly what the real estate business here does. When they show you a prospective property, they are just a taxi service; they take you there, turn the lights on, open the door and quote you a price.”

Koll’s fee structure is designed to ensure that the payment reflects the performance and results achieved by Koll, Koll is paid by the client and never by the “other side”, Koll will find the most cost effective and practical solutions available to.your company.

Koll’s Services:

•    Property market research for all forms of real estate
•    Strategic planning and execution of negotiations on leases (either renewal or new)
•    Thorough analysis of all aspects of the real estate transaction
•    Deal structuring and negotiation (for tenants/buyers only)
•    Project management (for our tenant/buyer clients only)
•    Facility management (for tenant/owner occupiers only)
•    Design services (via strategic alliances)
•    Acquisitions and disposals of Investment Properties
•    Commercial, industrial, retail and residential lease management services (on tenant side, exclusively)
•    Property Development Consultancy Services


Koll has developed a unique software tool for the analysis of a company’s exact requirements from the property. The software is unique in the market place and is the source of a definite competitive advantage to both Koll and the client in question.
Initially a series of technical questionnaires will be sent out to key staff in the organization in order to conduct a situational analysis of the company’s existing utilization of “space” and the key personnel’s expectations and requirements regarding the “space” into the future.

The above questionnaires and the information gleaned from meetings with management regarding the proposed transaction, e.g. location, grade, specific services, etc,, are loaded into the software and analyzed. The combined commercial scores (real costs per useable square metre) and quality/technical scores for each option are evaluated to give an overall “value for money” score.
This score takes into account the client’s specific requirements down to the smallest detail and thus acts as a very accurate and objective guide to the standing of each option at every stage of the negotiating process.

At this point detailed request for proposals (RFP’s) are prepared and submitted to each of the options best suiting the company’s requirements and are under consideration. The RFP that is submitted will include every commercial consideration specific to the transaction and is combined with “Koll’s Technical Questionnaire”.  Koll then recommends the best final choice for the tenant.


Nike Footwear and Apparel (Thailand, China and Bangkok), Norsk Hydro, Planet Sports Pte, The Norwegian Consulate, Ericsson, Danzas, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dragon Capital,  Akzo Nobel, Syngenta, Colgate Palmolive, Diageo (Thailand), Intel, Tetra Pak, Caterpillar, Organon, IMS Research, Dimon Tobacco, Formosa, Taffeta, BUPA/Blue Cross, Champion Communications, Mekong Capital, Bank of America, Beaufour Ipsen, Access Capital,  Diageo Vietnam, Riche Monde, Nestle, Generali, Philip Morris, & RTG Studios.

Tetra Pak, Ho Chi Minh City office.