Another REIT chief bows out as trusts come under pressure

FKP is the third property group to lose its chief executive in as many weeks, after it was confirmed Peter Brown will retire after almost 10 years. He took over FKP in Brisbane from founding managing director Rod Forrester in 2003.

FKP is the third property group to lose its chief executive in as many weeks, after it was confirmed Peter Brown will retire after almost 10 years. He took over FKP in Brisbane from founding managing director Rod Forrester in 2003.

A search is under way for his replacement. Mr Brown wants to leave no later than February.

He is spearheading a transition at FKP to reinvigorate the retirement business.

Mr Brown's departure follows the news last week that Mirvac's managing director, Nick Collishaw, is to leave in October and will be replaced by Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, while Stockland's head, Matthew Quinn, will also retire.

Late last year the Dexus chief executive, Victor Hoog Antink, led the charge with his retirement, and Darren Steinberg left Colonial to take up the Dexus job.

There is speculation that Westfield is planning to shed jobs. Stockland, Dexus and Lend Lease have already done so, and other companies are said to be reviewing staffing levels.

In a statement yesterday Westfield said it "continuously seeks ways to operate its business more efficiently through systems, technology and organisational structures".

Real estate analysts said the wave of retirements comes at a low point in the REIT cycle, with recent management announcements accompanied by earnings downgrades or warnings of tough times.

Of the trusts that have reported for the 2012 year, all have said growth will match the consumer price index, but not much more, with office, retail and residential property markets under pressure.

Despite the poor conditions the REIT sector has been outperforming the general sharemarket as investors store cash in safe havens, such as stable "rent collecting" office and retail landlords.

But if conditions worsen landlords could face pressure to try and increase rents when leases are up for renewal.

Mirvac releases its results today, as do CFS Retail, Charter Hall Retail REIT, Commonwealth Property Office and Peet Corporation.

Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said the residential sector would be in focus with the Mirvac and Peet results.

"Mirvac's chairman, James MacKenzie, has already confirmed that there would be no material writedowns to its residential book, but we await an update on Mirvac's commercial development pipeline and new funds management initiatives," the analysts said.

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