Stockland's new chief expresses concern
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BRISBANE, Nov 29 AAP
November 29 2012, 2:23PM
Property developer Stockland's incoming chief executive Mark Steinert is concerned that Australia's sluggish housing market is weighing down earnings.
Mr Steinert, who replaces Matthew Quinn on January 14, was asked about his predecessor's recent observation that the new property sector is the worst he has seen in 20 years.
"I'm concerned it's having a negative impact on earnings," Mr Steinert told reporters during a conference call on Thursday.
"We'll do the very best given the market conditions."
But Mr Steinert, an 18-year veteran of Swiss financial services group UBS presently based in New York, ruled out expanding Stockland's presence overseas.
The group has had a UK division since May 2007.
"We would not be recommending it's time to look for offshore opportunities to distract people," Mr Steinert said. "There's a lot of work to do on the core market."
Chairman Graham Bradley said that while Mr Steinert would review Stockland's operations, radical changes would be unlikely under his leadership.
"I want to reassure investors Mark hasn't been given a brief but there will always be improvements he can make," he told journalists.
"We do not expect a dramatic change in Stockland's strategic direction."
Mr Steinert will earn $1.5 million a year plus short-term incentives worth up to 125 per cent of his salary.
Upon leaving the company, he will be eligible for 12 months fixed pay plus short-term incentives, which Mr Bradley said matched termination arrangements for Mr Quinn, who has been chief executive since 2000.
Mr Steinert joined UBS in 1994 as the global head of real estate research and co-head of real estate in Australia and New Zealand.
He progressed to head of Australasian equities at UBS in 2004, and moved to New York a year later to be its global head of research.
Earlier in 2012 Mr Steinert was promoted to global head of product development and management for global asset management at UBS.
Stockland, a developer of residential housing, shopping centres and retirement homes, last month forecast a fall in its full-year earnings of up to 15 per cent because of weak real estate markets.
Still, Mr Steinert pointed out that Australia has an under supply of housing and was upbeat about Stockland's shopping centre division.
"As long as you have population growth, you have spending growth," he said, adding demographic factors favoured its retirement village sector.
By Stephen Johnson