Vicinity CFO steps down

Vicinity Centres chief financial officer Michael O’Brien has resigned from the retail property group to take up the position of managing director of global real estate at QIC.

Vicinity chief executive and managing director Grant Kelley said O’Brien led a significant repositioning of the property group’s real estate portfolio, including the sale of $2.5 billion of assets and the Sydney CBD/Chatswood Chase Sydney asset swap transaction with GIC.

O’Brien joined the group in 2015 as chief investment officer, and was appointed chief financial officer in December of 2018 during a restructuring of the executive committee – an effort to better utilise the group’s assets and accelerate its growth strategy.

At the time, Kelley said the leadership changes were the next step in the business’ transformation efforts.

“More than three years post-demerger, the time is now right to realign our business to focus on the successful and swift execution of our new strategy,” Kelley said.

However, in a recent independent valuation of its retail portfolio, Vicinity saw $37 million wiped off the value of its 62 centres – falling to $15.83 billion, a 0.2 per cent decline.

The declines were seen in regional (2.6 per cent), sub-regional (1.6 per cent) and neighbourhood centres (5.7 per cent), while the group’s “flagship portfolio”, which includes centres such as Chadstone shopping centre, CBD assets and DFO centres, saw valuation increases.

Vicinity general manager treasury Kah Wong has been appointed as acting chief financial officer while the group begins an internal and global external search for O’Brien’s replacement. Wong has managed the business’ balance sheets since 2016, and has been responsible for managing a $5 million debt portfolio, including bank debt, bonds, US private placements and a $3 billion derivatives portfolio.

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