SCENTRE GROUP LIMITED
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 5 APRIL 2023 AT 10:00AM
Good morning everyone and welcome to the Annual General Meeting of Scentre Group Limited.
I am Brian Schwartz, the Chair of Scentre Group.
Our AGM is being held in person this year at the Wesley Conference Centre in Sydney. The meeting is also being webcast live on Scentre Group’s website.
The Company Secretary has informed me that a quorum is present, and I declare the meeting open.
In doing so, I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the traditional custodians of the land we are on. I would like to pay my respects to each of their Elders, past and present and I extend that respect to Torres Strait and Aboriginal peoples here today. I recognise that people viewing the webcast of this AGM may be on different lands of different Traditional Custodians, and I would like to pay my respects to each of their Elders, past and present.
I would like to welcome on stage with me the Chair of our Audit and Risk Committee, Mike Ihlein; Chair of our Human Resources Committee, Ilana Atlas; our Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Elliott Rusanow; non-Executive Directors, Mike Wilkins and Steve McCann, and Maureen McGrath our Company Secretary.
I would also like to welcome my fellow Directors sitting in the front row: Carolyn Kay, Guy Russo, Margie Seale, Catherine Brenner and Andrew Harmos.
Ms Megan Wilson, representing the Group’s auditors EY, is here today, and will retire as audit partner at the end of this meeting. I would like to thank Megan for her services to the Group
We are also joined by members of Scentre Group’s executive team including our executive KMP: Andrew Clarke, CFO; Lillian Fadel,Group Director, Customer Experience; John Papagiannis, Group Director, Business; and Maria Stamoulis, Director, Human Resources.
[Procedural matters addressed]
Having gone through the formalities, I will now deliver my address.
On behalf of the Board of Scentre Group, thank you for participating in today’s annual general meeting.
I would like to welcome Elliott Rusanow to his first AGM as our Chief Executive Officer and following me, Elliott will address our operating and financial performance.
When I think back over the year, what comes to mind is how successful our team has been in maintaining their focus on our customers and on our Westfield centres.
The vibrancy of our Westfield destinations has been pleasing to see with visitation growing as Australians and New Zealanders returned to living their lives free of restrictions.
Our financial performance reflects this positive momentum and demonstrates our continued proactive and deliberate approach to generating long-term value for our securityholders.
It has been a significant year for the Group as we successfully executed our leadership transition with Elliott commencing in the role of Chief Executive Officer on 1 October, following the decision of our inaugural CEO Peter Allen to step down. Andrew Clarke commenced in the role of Chief Financial Officer at the same time.
After an internal and external search, both were internal appointments which reflects the strength of the Group’s succession and talent pipeline.
I’m pleased to see our former CEO Peter Allen has joined us today. On behalf of the Board and securityholders, I would like to thank you Peter for your extraordinary leadership over eight years as our inaugural CEO. The seamless transition that occurred throughout 2022 is testament to your leadership and stewardship of our company and culture.
Peter achieved much in his 8 years as CEO but I think his greatest achievement was leading the change from Westfield to Scentre Group. He created a culture that I believe is truly unique, setting us up well for the long-term.
Some of the non-financial drivers of this have been a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion; on new starters; parents returning to work; on our Reconciliation Action Plan; on all facets of our Responsible Business strategy.
Peter was our leader and indeed the industry’s leader more broadly throughout COVID -- a period we had no precedent for. The decisions made throughout this period prioritised long-term value creation and have left us well positioned for the future.
We are committed to fostering a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace where our people feel respected, inspired to deliver their best and do work that matters to businesses and communities. Gender diversity remains a key focus of this approach. We have continued to increase female representation at all levels of the organisation and are well positioned to achieve our goal of 40:40:20 across the Group’s workplace by 2025. We currently have four women on the Board and will achieve 40% female representation this year.
We have continued to deliver on our responsible business strategy. The Board maintains oversight of our approach to climate risk. Recently we released our first Climate Statement at the same time as our Responsible Business Report, providing more detail on our progress and pathway to net zero by 2030.
During the year we released our third Reconciliation Action Plan.
Board renewal and succession planning continues to be a focus. The Board is committed to continuing to ensure that we appoint directors with an appropriate mix of skills, knowledge, experience, and diversity.
We were very pleased to have Steve McCann join the Board from 1 November 2022. He is standing for election today as outlined in our Notice of Meeting.
Mike Wilkins is standing for re-election.
Mike and Steve will address securityholders shortly in support of their respective re-election and election, both with the full support of the Board.
Andrew Harmos announced his retirement from the Board and on behalf of the directors I extend my thanks to him for his contribution to Scentre Group since our formation in 2014.
Andrew has been a dedicated Chair of the Human Resources Committee and his contribution throughout this time has been significant. Andrew is our New Zealand-based director but always with a Group-wide perspective. We will miss him and on behalf of your fellow directors, thank you and we wish you all the very best Andrew.
The focus on succession and Board renewal includes the role of Chair.
This morning I announced I will be retiring from the Board on 30 September.
Having substantially completed the CEO transition, and with the company moving forward strongly post-COVID, it is the right time for the Board’s leadership to also transition.
The Group’s growth ambition is clear and I am very pleased Ilana Atlas will take the reins as your Chair from 1 October 2023.
Ilana and I will work closely over the coming months, with Elliott, to complete a seamless transition.
Ilana is an accomplished director and Chair with a diverse non-executive and executive career including financial and legal services and people and culture.
The Board unanimously supports her appointment and I have no doubt Ilana’s leadership will add greatly to the future success and growth of our company and take it to another level.
I would like to extend my thanks to Elliott and the entire Scentre Group team for their focus on our customer strategy and growth ambition, continuing to deliver long-term growth for our securityholders.
I thank my fellow directors for their valuable contribution and support this year as we worked with management in delivering an excellent result and completed our CEO and CFO leadership transition, whilst making excellent progress on following this through to complete the leadership transition at Board level.
Thank you for your continued support of our company.
I would now like to introduce our CEO Elliott Rusanow to deliver his address.