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Stockland names former UBS banker as its new chief

30 Nov 2012 THE AGE - PHILIP WEN WITH AAP


INCOMING Stockland chief executive Mark Steinert says the property market's slump is likely to weigh on the group's earnings.

Stockland said on Thursday that Mr Steinert, a former UBS investment banker, would head the country's largest diversified property group, replacing long-serving chief executive Matthew Quinn.

Mr Steinert, who will begin in the role in the new year, was a former global head of research at UBS, and has 25 years of experience in property and financial services.

Asked about his predecessor's observation that the new property sector was the worst he had seen in 20 years, Mr Steinert said he was "concerned it's having a negative impact on earnings".

Shares in Stockland gained 5?, or 1.5 per cent, to $3.43.

Mr Quinn, who is calling time on a 12-year career with Stockland, steps down at a tumultuous time in the property sector. The group last month warned its full-year earnings would likely fall by up to 15 per cent on last year.

The onus will be on Mr Steinert to reconsider the group's "three R" strategy of retail, residential and retirement properties, the source of two earnings downgrades this year due to weakness in residential markets and cautious consumer sentiment.

In July, chairman Graham Bradley said the new chief executive would have the freedom to take the group in a new strategic direction. But yesterday he said while Mr Steinert would review Stockland's operations, radical changes would be unlikely under his leadership.

"I want to reassure investors Mark hasn't been given a brief but there will always be improvements he can make," he said. "We do not expect a dramatic change in Stockland's strategic direction."

On top of a large shopping centre, office and warehouse portfolio, Stockland holds massive land holdings capable of being developed into billions of dollars of new homes, but has instead been a source of a collapse in sales and margins.

Mr Quinn, who is one of the longest-serving chief executives in the property sector, oversaw a series of takeovers, including a move on AMP Diversified Property Trust. He also made two unsuccessful tilts at GPT, and was consistently rumoured to be looking at rival Mirvac over the years.

Mr Steinert will receive a fixed salary of $1.5 million and be eligible for short-term incentives worth up to 125 per cent of his salary.

He said he was "honoured and excited" to lead Stockland as only the fourth chief executive in the group's 60-year history.

"Mark has a track record of successfully managing large business operations, an extensive background in the property sector and a strong reputation among property investors," Mr Bradley said.