Hyprop Investments CEO Pieter Prinsloo will become the chief of Netherlands-based company Redefine Europe in 2019. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Hyprop, the owner of The Mall of Rosebank, Hyde Park Corner and Canal Walk, surprised the market with the news that Prinsloo would leave the company on January 31. 

South African diversified group Redefine Properties is launching a European office, which will oversee it assets on the continent.

"We have known Pieter for a long time and have had a very good relationship with him,” Redefine Properties CEO Andrew Konig said.

“Even though we have a number of European partners who we have done business with and invested with in Europe,  he will be our South African representative on the ground in the continent. Pieter has built up a strong knowledge of Europe following Hyprop's investments there which he will use in his new position." 

While Redefine already has exposure to Europe through investments RDI and EPP, in July it gained direct property exposure to Poland when it acquired of a 95% share for €185.8m (R2.9bn) in a portfolio of nine operating logistics properties.

It has entered into a five-year exclusive priority right for a pipeline of 24 new warehousing and logistics developments with Panattoni, a player in the leasing and development of logistics properties in Europe.

Prinsloo said he was "very happy" with what he had achieved during his tenure at Hyprop.

"This is an exciting opportunity for me. I need to do something different. I am emigrating  with my wife and children who have Dutch citizenship so this fits in well with my plans," he said.

Morné Wilken to replace Prinsloo

Prinsloo has spent more than 14 years in two stints at the helm of Hyprop. He was CEO from 2002-2009, and was reappointed in May 2011. His resignation comes soon after Hyprop's former financial director, Laurence Cohen left the group in August, after 15 years at the company.

Hyprop has put in a weak performance so far in 2018, with the share price down 23.24%. But it has performed better than its peers — troubled Resilient has fallen more than 60% — and is regarded as being in a different league, with a number of highly valued SA assets, including Clearwater Mall and the Glen Shopping Centre.

The company, which has exposure to southeastern Europe through a joint venture called Hystead, also owns interests in a number of shopping centres in the rest of Africa. Hyprop has a market capitalisation of R23.5bn. 

"Pieter was instrumental in developing Hyprop into a company that has generated strong returns for shareholders over an extended period and is well positioned to continue doing so," Hyprop said.

Prinsloo will be replaced by Morné Wilken, the present CEO of MAS Real Estate, who served as CEO of Attacq with the roll-out of the Waterfall and Mall of Africa developments in Gauteng. Wilken has been CEO of MAS since January.

Wilken had "indicated a desire to return to SA" from the Isle of Man, Hyprop said. "Hyprop welcomes Morné and looks forward to working with him," the group said.

At 10.47am Hyprop shares were down 2.09% to R89.91 and MAS was off 0.13% as R22.80 in a generally weak property sector.

With Maarten Mittner