Stockland CEO to retire as commercial property portfolio drops in value

Stockland CEO to retire as commercial property portfolio drops in value

The CEO and managing director of listed property group Stockland (ASX: SGP) Mark Steinert (pictured) has announced his intention retire today after 7.5 years in the role.

The company is now searching for Steinert's successor who will lead the company through its COVID-19 recovery.

"A flexible period of transition has been agreed with Mark to provide for a smooth handover and to ensure that there is a strong focus on leading the organisation through the COVID-19 recovery period," says Stockland chairman Tom Pockett.

"Mark has made a great contribution to Stockland and will continue to apply his passion and commitment to the delivery of our strategic priorities and our purpose of creating a better way to live during this transition period."

The announcement comes hot on the heels of Stockland revealing the impact of COVID-19 on the value of its commercial property portfolio.

The preliminary draft revaluations as at 18 June indicate a reduction in the book value of the portfolio of approximately six per cent, including a devaluation in the retail portfolio of approximately 10 per cent.

The devaluations come as approximately 95 per cent of Stockland's 'Retail Town Centre' stores by rental income are now trading, with more openings expected as level three restriction easing begins to take effect during July 2020.

In the residential space, Stockland says sales have been bolstered by government stimulus.

The company continues to sell over 80 per cent of its homes and lots to owner-occupiers, with first home buyers representing around half of sales.

"These segments are the most likely to benefit from targeted stimulus measures, implemented by the Federal Government, particularly the HomeBuilder program," says Stockland.

"Following the introduction of these stimulus programs and the easing of social distancing restrictions since mid-May 2020, new enquiry levels in our residential communities have recovered to be above pre-COVID-19 levels.

"We have also seen an accelerated pace of net sales achieved and have demonstrated our ability to respond to quickly to improving customer sentiment and release more stock at our communities, in the areas of greatest demand."

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on Stockland's business during the last quarter the company has made the decision to reduce its second half distribution from 14.1 cents per share to 10.6 cents per share.

"Reducing the distribution and retaining this capital will protect our balance sheet and position us well to navigate the recovery phase," says Stockland.

The company remains liquid with $1.6 billion at 30 April 2020, and it expects gearing will remain within the target range of 20 to 30 per cent at 30 June 2020.

Stockland will announce its full year financial results on 25 August 2020.

"We remain focused on creating Australia's most liveable and sustainable communities, accelerating our logistics development pipeline and future proofing our town centres," says outgoing CEO Steinert.

"With a strong liquidity position, we are well placed to take advantage of growth opportunities during the recovery phase."

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