Next month will see Martin Greenslade exchange armoured vehicle manufacturing
for retail parks and property as he moves into the FTSE100 big league to become
group finance director of Land Securities.
Greenslade’s move from finance director at Alvis to the UK’s largest quoted
property company is seen as a big leap up the ranks for the 40-year-old.
He will swap a traditional military manufacturer, which employed 2,500 staff
in Europe, to a company with a complex portfolio of interests including New
Scotland Yard and £5.3bn invested in retail property alone in the UK.
Managing the diverse financial interests of Land Securities, which owns or
runs 28 shopping centres and 30 retail parks in the UK, will undoubtedly prove a
challenge for the Cambridge graduate, especially as he joins just as
long-standing chairman Peter Birch looks set to exit.
Birch, former chief executive of Abbey National, said Greenslade’s
‘entrepreneurial background’ and ‘successful track record as a finance director’
secured the role.
Greenslade’s experience in acquisitions and debt restructuring are also
likely to have struck a chord with Land Securities’s executives.
His entrepreneurial expertise – he founded a corporate finance firm in 1992 –
could be stretched over the next 12 months due to the introduction of real
estate investment trusts by the government.
These will regulate the tax, investment and finance of the commercial
property industry and, because they have the potential to give companies such as
Land a greater foothold in residential property, the move could be very
Greenslade also joins at a buoyant time for the group, which is a market
leader in retail property, the London market and property outsourcing. Despite a
£3.2bn debt restructuring which prompted a £155.8m write-off in exceptional
costs, its profit for the year ending 2005 was £401m, with a 16.6% increase on
the total dividend paid to shareholders.
Greenslade’s track record at Alvis, where he oversaw a three-fold increase in
its market capitalisation, is impressive, but his five years at the armoured-car
manufacturer wasn’t always an easy ride and will be good preparation for the ups
and downs of the property world.
He was forced to oversee a substantial restructuring of Alvis early last year
after the government pulled the plug on a potentially lucrative armoured vehicle
programme as the export market took a downward turn.
Alvis had acquired military manufacturer Vickers to oversee part of this
work, and Greenslade shed significant jobs at its Telford site to keep the
company on track. A Norwegian subsidiary was also closed.
His restructuring was evidently successful, with BAE Systems snapping up
Alvis by August 2004.
After managing part of that merger Greenslade moved on, as Alvis was subsumed
to create Europe’s biggest armoury group.
There are few things in common between military manufacturing and commercial
property management, and chartered accountant Greenslade will have to find his
feet quickly if he is to successfully steer the group’s £10bn combined
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