Charter Hall Retail boss to lead restructured Centro

Steven Sewell, the current CEO of Charter Hall Retail REIT, has been handed the responsibility of guiding the restructured Centro Group – now known as Central Retail Australia – in 2012.

Sewell will replace incumbent chief executive Robert Tsenin on April 2 (or possibly earlier subject to agreement) after Tsenin announced last year that he would retire following the restructure.

Sewell will take the job with some experience of the Centro culture and management already under his belt. Earlier this month Sewell oversaw Charter Hall Retail’s $32.5 million purchase of Centro’s Kangaroo Flat shopping centre in Bendigo.

Sewell says he is excited at the prospect of guiding Centro through the next stage of its evolution and is “looking forward to capitalising on the opportunities that existed in the extensive portfolio of well-located shopping centres”.

He will manage a REIT comprising 99 shopping centres, with Woolworths and K-Mart the biggest tenants.

“Centro has an impressive portfolio of assets, diversified across Australia, with excellent opportunities for income and capital growth.  I look forward to working with the team to convert these opportunities and grow the company for the benefit of all stakeholders,” Sewell says.

Tsenin will leave the company with a great deal of satisfaction having steered it through a highly complex restructure that staved off the threat of administration.

Centro Retail Australia officially started trading on the ASX on December 5 at a share price of $1.70 and a market capitalisation of $2.3 billion.

At close of trading on Wednesday, the stock was trading at $1.85, up 3¢ on the day.

Centro received the green light to commence trading following a four-year battle to find a way out of financing problems dating back to the GFC after former auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers decided not to appeal a NSW Supreme Court decision in favour of the restructuring plan.

This followed major shareholders and bond holders agreeing to the restructuring of the company and the formation of the new retail fund on November 22, guaranteeing them a payout of about 5¢ per share.

As part of the restructure, the $2.7 billion owed to Centro’s senior lenders that was due to be paid by December 15 will be cancelled in exchange for substantially all of Centro’s Australian assets and interests being transferred to these lenders.


Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer


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