ONE of the longest-serving chief executives in property, Matthew Quinn, has announced his retirement from Stockland Group and going out the door with him will be his contentious pay packet that reached $5.3 million last year.
But having joined the group 11 years ago and steered it through the global financial crisis and a series of hard-fought acquisitions and a realignment of operations, he can walk out on his own terms something that eluded other property chief executives.
Mr Quinn's decision comes four months after declaring he was committed to staying with the group for another three years, albeit not on a contract but a "statement of intent".
At the same time, he agreed to a clawback of short-term incentives for the 2013 year, but his pay last year did include about $2.2 million in cash short-term incentives.
Over the 11 years Mr Quinn's high salary has been the subject of shareholder dispute, but after buybacks and capital raisings, over his tenure, the share price has returned 96.5 per cent, against the S&P/ASX 200 A-REIT Accummulation Index's 54 per cent.
Mr Quinn joined Stockland at a time when it was a single-focused "rent collector" run by the late founder and industry stalwart Ervin Graf. Mr Quinn was only the third chief executive employed at Stockland.
And showing the strong ties it had to its past, Peter Daly, whom Mr Quinn replaced, remained as the group's executive chairman for at least one year, before he let go of the reins to allow the new guard some freedom.
In the ensuing years, Mr Quinn and his team, including the current head of retail, John Schroder, fought off the big guns and became one.
It made a series of hard-fought takeovers, including its move on the AMP Diversified Property Trust, which propelled it to being the third biggest A-REIT by market capitalisation. It retains that position.
But Mr Quinn also made two unsuccessful tilts at GPT and was always rumoured to have looked at rival Mirvac over the years.
He also bowed to market pressure and bought into the United Kingdom, an investment that was later written down in value and is up for sale.
There is also the investment in FKP Property where Stockland has a first right over the retirement assets. It's a strategy that still upsets some investors.
Mr Quinn said one of the highlights of his tenure was "creating the culture here and assembling a great team of people that I watched excel and seeing their careers flourish".
"While I would prefer to be leaving when the market was stronger, I think it's time to seek out new opportunities for me and the company."
But for Mr Quinn one of his legacies will be the much publicised three R strategy of retail, residential and retirement. These three are now the hardest hit by the current climate and have caused two earnings downgrades this year.