"Family board meeting" convinced Matthew Quinn to step down as Stockland managing director next February

Turning 50 on June 16 and a "family board meeting" convinced Stockland managing director Matthew Quinn that he should end his 11 years in charge of Australia's biggest residential property developer.

Speaking at a hastily arranged media conference today following the surprise announcement, Quinn said he had sat down with Stockland chairman, Graham Bradley in April and committed to leading Stockland for the next three years "as it transitioned in tough market.

“But things change. I turned 50 in June. We had a family board meeting and decided it was time to make the change," he said

Quinn, who resides in a McMahons Point house, will step down in February next year, continuing to lead the business until a successor is appointed.

He spearheaded Stockland's "three Rs" strategy - a focus on  the retail, retirement and residential sectors, but no one at the media briefing asked if his own personal retirement was the fourth "R".

The Stockland board will undertake a “comprehensive internal and external search to select Stockland’s next managing director”.

Yesterday, the Australian Financial Review's Street Talk column reported that the market was “abuzz with rumours of a change in leadership” despite Quinn declaring earlier this year that he would remain at the helm for another three years.

In Stockland’s most recent third quarter investor briefing in May Quinn said Stockland was on track to achieve its 2012 financial year guidance.

However, at the end of March Stockland issued an earnings downgrade for the 2012 financial year, saying that the highest rainfall in the Illawarra region in NSW in 50 years, had delayed activities at two residential projects - Brooks Reach in Dapto, comprising 618 lots, and McCauley's Beach in Thirroul, comprising about 160 lots.

And the company is tipped to report a drop in full-year earnings per security to 29.3¢ when it releases its full year results on August 8 compared with guidance released in May of 29.8¢.

Explaining the drop in full-year earnings guidance, Bradley said factors impacting had included provisions made for restructuring costs, which are still ongoing and will lead to costs savings in the years ahead.

The company also did not buy back as many shares as planned due to higher share price, while there was also delay in settlement in contracted super lot sales, which have now slipped into the 2013 financial year.

“There was a delay in the settlement process," said Quinn.

"Contracts on hand in June, did not proceed to settlement before the end of the last financial year, and will come through in first quart of 2013."

However, he said Stockland did achieve a target of 5,000 lot settlements for the financial year.

Street Talk speculated that Investa Property Group’s former head, Chris O’Donnell,was among the names that have cropped up as a potential replacement along with Denis Hickey at Lend Lease.

Bradley said Quinn would be missed and had overseen significant transformation at the developer.

Quinn has been with Stockland for 13 years.

“He has every right to be proud of the legacy of what he has achieved.”

“The board fully understands and accepts his decision.”

Bradley says succession planning is now the board’s top priority from now and process which he says will take no more than 6 months to ensure an orderly and smooth transition.

“Over last 24 hours we have undertaken a comprehensive search to identify a successor to Matthew with rights skills and experience to take Stockland forward,” he said.

“There is no reason to be concerned we will lose momentum and we will fully implement our direction and strategy.”

Announcing his decision to step down, Quinn said: "After much consideration I have decided that it is now the right time to step down. I am committed to working with the Board and executive team to ensure a smooth transition.

“It has been a privilege to lead Stockland and I am very proud of the legacy I will leave behind.” 

Quinn was in born in Northhampton in England and began his professional career as an accountant in the UK before moving to Australia in 1987 with Price Waterhouse.

In 1988 he joined private property group the Rockingham Park Group.

He joined Stockland in 1999 and was appointed as managing director in October 2000.

Among the other positions he has held in the property industry is national president of the Property Council of Australia from March 2003 to March 2005.

He is also a fellow of the Australian Property Institute and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

He lives in McMahons Point, a harbourside suburb on the lower North Shore of Sydney.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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