ONE of the longest-serving chief executives in the property sector, 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.
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 only four months after he declared he was committed to staying with the group for another three years, albeit not in a contract but a "statement of intent".
At the same time he agreed to a claw back in 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 salary has been the subject of shareholders' 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 AREIT Accumulation Index's 54 per cent.
Mr Quinn joined Stockland when it was a 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 the group's respect for its past, Peter Daly, whom Mr Quinn replaced, remained its executive chairman for at least one year before he allowed the new guard some freedom.
In the ensuing years, Mr Quinn and his team, including the head of retail, John Schroder, fought off the big guns and then became one itself.
It made a series of takeovers, including a move on AMP Diversified Property Trust, which propelled it to being the third-biggest real estate investment trust by market capitalisation. It retains that position.
Mr Quinn also made two unsuccessful tilts at GPT, and was always rumoured to be looking at rival Mirvac over the years. He also bowed to market pressure and bought into the British market, and the assets were later written down in value and are up for sale.
There is also the investment in FKP Property, which gives Stockland a first right over the retirement assets. It is a strategy that still upsets some investors.
"I have two highlights of my tenure," Mr Quinn said. "One is 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. We do tangible things and I like to go to our centres and see the roofs we have put over people's heads.
"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."
One of his legacies will be the much publicised "three Rs" strategy of retail, residential and retirement. These are now the hardest hit by the current cautious consumer sentiment and have been the cause of two earnings downgrades this year.