Sep 30, 2020
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Hammerson's new CEO is international property exec

Sep 30, 2020

Hammerson has announced its new CEO, an executive who’s prepared to take on one of the toughest current jobs in the real estate sector as retail property owners remain under intense, even existential, pressure.

Bullring owner Hammerson has a new CEO - Bullring

Rita-Rose Gagné is stepping into the role having most recently been President of Growth Markets at the global real estate company Ivanhoé Cambridge. There she had responsibility for $7.6bn of real estate assets across Asia Pacific and Latin America. 

A lawyer by training, she joined the Canada-based firm in 2006 and held a variety of roles from Senior VP, Legal Affairs and General Counsel at its Société immobilière Trans-Québec (SITQ) unit to Executive VP of Global Strategy, Portfolio Management and Investment Funds at Ivanhoé Cambridge. In that role, she was tasked with developing, leading and executing the investment strategy in Asia and Latin America, prior to being made President of Growth Markets.

Overall, she’s worked in property markets across the world, including the UK, France and Germany, and her expertise spans various asset classes and mixed-use assets, including residential, retail, office and logistics.

She’s expected to take up her new role with Hammerson before the end of the year and David Atkins will continue to serve as CEO until she joins.

And as mentioned, she has a major job on her hands. Property firms continue to face big challenges as some tenants fail to pay their rent and more and more retail tenants opt for deals that end up in stores being closed and rents being reduced.

Hammerson owns a raft of major retail properties, including Brent Cross, High Cross and the Bullring in the UK, Ireland’s Dundrum Town Centre, Italie Deux in Paris and Les Terrasses du Port in Marseille, among others.

It had its challenges pre-pandemic but the events of this year have magnified these. 

The business, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, is currently the most ‘shorted’ company on the LSE. This means sophisticated investors are betting that its share price will fall. The shares are down from a value of almost 285p each five years ago to around 15p at the moment. 

So what was it about the new CEO that suggested she could deal with these issues? Hammerson chair Robert Noel said “she has an excellent track record in international real estate investment, building high-quality teams, developing strategic partnerships, execution and delivering results”.

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