Weightman to exit Cromwell as boardroom battle takes its toll

Weightman to exit Cromwell as boardroom battle takes its toll

The boardroom battle at Cromwell Property Group (ASX: CMW) has taken its toll with the announcement today that company co-founder and CEO Paul Weightman (pictured) will retire at the end of this month.

Weightman has led the company for the past 22 years and while Cromwell says the CEO's succession plan had been on the agenda for some time, the boardroom machinations of the past year are hard to ignore.

The $11.5 billion property investment company has been on the radar of corporate radar Gary Weiss for some time.

Weiss, who now has a seat on the Cromwell board, is a director of Straits Trading, the largest shareholder of Singapore's ARA Asset Management which launched a failed proportional takeover bid for Cromwell this year.

Weightman's planned departure follows a recent shake-up of the Cromwell board by ARA which saw chairman Leon Blitz, deputy chairman Andrew Fay and director John Humphrey head for the door in recent months.

Cromwell chair Jane Tongs has paid tribute to Wightman as one of the longest serving CEOs of an ASX listed company.

"I would like to acknowledge his longstanding contribution and thank him for his dedication and hard work over more than two decades," she says.

In a statement to the ASX, Weightman highlighted COVID as the biggest challenge for the company this year.

"I'm proud that Cromwell has come through the pandemic and is continuing to operate successfully, particularly with the majority of its people working from home for most of the year," he says.

"It has been an honour and a privilege to have been CEO of a business that has delivered such strong returns over such a long timeframe. I would like to thank my fellow directors, past and present, and everyone who has participated in the Cromwell journey over the last 22 years."

Cromwell has appointed CFO Michael Wilde as acting CEO from 1 January 2021 while it undertakes a global search for his replacement.

In his statement, Wilde emphasised he has the "clear support" of the Cromwell board and investors.

"I look forward to continuing to execute on the exciting initiatives in our pipeline," he says.

"We are very well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves in calendar year 2021."

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