Months of speculation about talks between Lafayette’s largest real estate brokerage firm and New Orleans-based real estate group Latter & Blum will come to an end at a press conference Wednesday morning. And while no one is talking details at this point, the deal does not involve a sale of the locally based company, according to one of VER’s top execs.

“What I can tell you definitely is this is not a sale,” Van Eaton & Romero Chief Executive Officer Bill Bacqué says in response to ABiz’s inquiry about the nature of this cryptic media advisory issued late Friday afternoon:
Please be advised of an upcoming announcement from Van Eaton & Romero at a press conference on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 10:30AM at City Club at River Ranch, Lafayette, LA.

Special guests will be available for interviews and video/photography.
Though he acknowledges that "there is something going on" and details will be announced Wednesday morning, Van Eaton & Romero CEO Bill Bacqué says he and fellow firm principals Nancy Van Eaton-Broussard, seated, and Gail Romero "on Thursday and the days beyond that, every day, we are going to be here."

“There is something going on,” Bacqué acknowledges, though declining to identify the name of the company that will also take part in the announcement. He did, however, confirm that New Orleans-based Latter & Blum is the entity most speculation has been centered upon. That may in part be related to a January 2011 transaction in which Van Eaton & Romero bought the residential division of ERA Stirling Properties’ Lafayette office from Latter & Blum. That agreement occurred simultaneously with Latter & Blum’s purchase of  Stirling’s entire residential division, which included operations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Latter & Blum, which currently has only a commercial property management office in Lafayette, operates in Louisiana and Mississippi and includes residential, relocation and commercial divisions and a property management division; it offers insurance and financing services as well, according to its website. The company also owns CJ Brown Realtors in Baton Rouge and Noles-Frye in Alexandria.

Calls placed to the Lafayette Latter & Blum office and the company's marketing department in New Orleans were not immediately returned.

Latter & Blum and VER's dealings with each other actually date back almost a decade, according to Bacqué. “[In] 2003 or 2004, we exchanged our residential property management division for a Latter & Blum Lafayette residential sales office. At that time they actually had a small presence in the Lafayette housing market. We wanted to get out of the property management business, and they were not satisfied with the performance of their residential sales operation. It was a good trade for all parties,” he says.

Bacqué couched the Wednesday press conference as more of an announcement about the company’s strategy for 2013 and beyond, saying it will unveil “significant technological changes, relocation enhancements and other strategic announcements to help us define and maintain our dominance as a real estate company going into the future.”

“I can tell you, Nancy [Van Eaton-Broussard], Gail [Romero] and I on Thursday and the days beyond that, every day, we are going to be here,” Bacqué continues.

Van Eaton-Broussard and Romero founded the firm in 1977; Bacqué, now 61, joined them in 1990.

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