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Architect of Stockland growth quits

ONE of the longest-serving chief executives in property, Matthew Quinn, has announced his retirement from Stockland Group.

ONE of the longest-serving chief executives in property, Matthew Quinn, has announced his retirement from Stockland Group.

Mr Quinn joined the group 11 years ago and has steered it through the global financial crisis, a series of hard-fought acquisitions and a realignment of operations.

His decision comes four months after saying he was committed to staying with the group for another three years, albeit not on a contract, but on a "statement of intent".

At the same time, he agreed to a clawback of short-term incentives for the 2013 year, but his pay of $5.3 million last year did include about $2.2 million in short-term cash 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 Accumulation Index's 54 per cent.

Mr Quinn joined Stockland at a time when it was a single-focused "rent collector" run by 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 a 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 a move on the AMP Diversified Property Trust, which propelled Stockland to the third-biggest Australian real estate investment trust by market capitalisation. It retains that position.

But Mr Quinn also made two unsuccessful tilts at GPT and was rumoured to have looked at rival Mirvac over the years.

He also bowed to market pressure and bought into the UK, an investment that was later written down and is up for sale.

There is also the investment in FKP Property, where Stockland has a first right over the retirement assets. It is 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".

"The other is related to our customers and the centres we have created," he said.

"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 Rs 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.

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