Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates Inc., a subsidiary of Realogy Corp. (NYSE: H), today announced that it has awarded exclusive master franchise rights for the Sotheby’s International Realty brand for all of Canada.

The franchise company has awarded the rights to Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, a luxury real estate firm owned by Vancouver businessman Ross McCredie, according to a company announcement. Sotheby’s International Realty Canada already has offices in Western Canada and is opening new offices in Toronto and Montreal.

“Ross McCredie has emerged as a leader in Canadian’s luxury home market and his savvy business acumen will help expand our prestigious global network,” said Michael R. Good, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates Inc., in a statement. “We are growing with offices located in international cities around the world, and we are very pleased that our luxury real estate services will be available in Toronto and Montreal.”

And the firm will continue to development a system of luxury real estate offices in Canada to be part of the Sotheby’s International Realty network, according to the announcement.

McCredie, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, said in a statement, “People from around the world are seeing that Canada is an emerging market. We have experienced it firsthand in western Canada and now we are seeing it in eastern Canada. We are following a vision to become the best-known marketer of luxury real estate in Canada.”

The company, McCredie stated, has about $5 billion worth of properties under contract in Western Canada, “and we look forward to expanding east to serve clients located in the Toronto and Montreal metro markets.”

Founded in 1976 to provide independent real estate brokerages with a marketing and referral program for luxury listings, the Sotheby’s International Realty franchise network was developed in February 2004 through a long-term agreement between Cendant Corp. (former parent to Realogy Corp.) and Sotheby’s Holdings Inc.

“Affiliations in the system are granted only to brokerages and individuals meeting strict qualifications,” according to the announcement by Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates. Franchise affiliates have an association with the 260-year-old Sotheby’s auction house.

In August a federal antitrust enforcement agency in Canada announced a prohibition order against the Sotheby’s international auction house and a Canadian subsidiary, Sotheby’s Canada Inc., after an investigation of an alleged international price-fixing scheme from 1993-2000.

The order prohibits Sotheby’s, headquartered in New York, and Sotheby’s Canada, based in Toronto, from committing any offenses that violate Canada’s Competition Act.

Canada’s federal Competition Bureau had investigated “an international conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing auction commission rates,” and “determined that Canadians may have been induced by Sotheby’s and Sotheby’s Canada to consign their property to auctions in the U.S. and elsewhere for sales subject to the fixed commission rates set by the illegal cartel. No evidence was uncovered that the conspiracy affected auctions held in Canada,” according to a Competition Bureau announcement.

An investigation in the United States had led to a grand jury indictment of the former chairmen of Sotheby’s Holdings Inc. and Christies International plc auction houses for fixing commission rates, the U.S. Justice Department announced in 2001.

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