Frank Lowy: “The company is now so well positioned for future success so I can stand down and feel very satisfied and comfortable about it.” Photo: Louise kennerleyFrank Lowy has performed his final official duties as chairman of the company that now runs the Australian and New Zealand part of the Westfield shopping centre empire he began 57 years ago.
Mr Lowy, who turned 85 last October, said the time was right to pass the baton at Scentre Group, which was spun off from the Westfield empire in 2014. He officially retired as executive chairman last year, but at an emotional Scentre Group annual general meeting in Sydney’s Town Hall on Thursday, Mr Lowy said it was time to go.
Once Scentre chief executive Peter Allen provided the third-quarter update – comparable specialty sales were up 4.5 per cent in Australia to $10,905 a square metre, and 6.3 per cent in New Zealand to $NZ12,257 sqm – and all resolutions were passed, it was time for Mr Lowy’s final speech.
“When Scentre Group was created, I was asked to remain as chairman during its formative stage, to see the transition through and provide continuity,” Mr Lowy told the audience.
“That job has now been done and so it is the right time for me to step down as chairman.
“The company is now so well positioned for future success so I can stand down and feel very satisfied and comfortable about it.”
He was given a standing ovation and mingled with past and present board members, directors, staff, family and shareholders for at least an hour after the meeting. Celebratory champagne was on offer along with the usual post-AGM spread of sandwiches, cakes and coffee.
After opening his first shopping centre in Blacktown, Sydney, with his friend John Saunders in 1959, Mr Lowy built the group into a global empire of 80 shopping centres across Australia, New Zealand, Britain, the US and soon Italy. Scentre now manages and has ownership interests in the Australian and New Zealand malls while Westfield Corp runs the 34 overseas centres.
Mr Lowy’s son Steven will remain on the Scentre board and the Lowy family stake in Scentre of about 4 per cent will be retained.
And Mr Lowy has not hung up the boots just yet. He is seeking re-election for a further three years as chairman of Westfield Corp at that group’s annual meeting in Sydney on May 12.
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