Property giant Landsec kicks off hunt for Carnwath successor
1 March 2018, 19:30
Dame Alison Carnwath is to step down as chairman of the property giant Land Securities, triggering a search for a successor to one of only a handful of women at the helm of a FTSE-100 board.
Sky News has learnt that Landsec, which owns a stake in Kent's Bluewater shopping centre, will announce on Friday that Dame Alison will leave after more than nine years in the role.
The search for her successor is being overseen by Egon Zehnder International, the boardroom headhunter, according to insiders.
Dame Alison is one of Britain's most prominent business leaders, having served on the boards of Barclays, tobacco company Gallaher and Man Group, the hedge fund manager.
She also chairs the London-based private equity investor Livingbridge and is a senior advisor to the investment bank Evercore Partners.
Many of her current board commitments are outside the UK, including directorships of Switzerland's Zurich Insurance Group and the Frankfurt-listed chemicals company BASF.
Dame Alison's tenure at Landsec, Britain's biggest commercial property group by market value, began at the height of the 2008 banking crisis, which precipitated turmoil across the real estate sector.
She joined the company's board in 2004, and replaced Lord Myners as chairman when he was enlisted by Gordon Brown's government to become a minister at the Treasury.
Under her stewardship, Landsec has undergone a sweeping overhaul of its asset base, focusing on balance sheet strength and the quality of its portfolio.
Last November, it sold the City's Walkie-Talkie office tower alongside its fellow shareholder for what analysts and shareholders deemed a premium price.
Landsec is a full or partial owner of Brighton Marina, the Lakeside Retail Park and the Xscape leisure development in Milton Keynes.
Arguably its most famous asset is the giant advertising screen located above Piccadilly Circus in central London.
Like other commercial property companies, Landsec has begun to warn about the prospective impact of Brexit on the market, saying in November that "headwinds are beginning to show in the economy".
Dame Alison's departure will entail the exit of one of only a handful of current FTSE-100 chairwomen, with others including Susan Kilsby at the pharmaceuticals group Shire.
Her time on the board of Barclays came to an end in 2012 when she resigned months after opposing a bonus for Bob Diamond, the bank's former chief executive.
Landsec declined to comment on Thursday night.
(c) Sky News 2018: Property giant Landsec kicks off hunt for Carnwath successor