Market conditions worry new head at Stockland

30 Nov 2012 | Sydney Morning Herald
THE incoming chief executive of Stockland, Mark Steinert, has said the property market slump would likely weigh on the group's earnings.

Stockland announced on Thursday that Mr Steinert, a former UBS investment banker, would head the country's largest diversified property group, replacing Matthew Quinn, who has been at Stockland for 12 years.

Mr Steinert, who starts next year, was the 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 [conditions are] having a negative impact on earnings".

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

The group warned last month that 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.

In July, the chairman, Graham Bradley, said the new chief executive would have the freedom to take the group in a new strategic direction.

But Mr Bradley said on Thursday that while Mr Steinert would review operations, radical changes would be unlikely. "I want to reassure investors Mark hasn't been given a brief but there will always be improvements he can make. We do not expect a dramatic change in Stockland's strategic direction."

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

Mr Quinn, one of the longest-serving chief executives in the property sector, oversaw a series of takeovers, including a move on AMP Diversified Property Trust.

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

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