US shopping centre REIT Taubman Centers has named veteran Paul Wright as the new president of its Asian operation, according to a statement by the company on Friday.
Wright, who first joined Hong Kong-based Taubman Asia in 2006, takes over the top spot with the retail real estate developer and manager as incumbent Peter Sharp has resigned from the president role after three years with the company, Taubman said.
The change in leadership for Taubman Asia comes eight months after the Asian branch of one of America’s largest mall developers, which has projects in mainland China, Macau and South Korea, agreed to sell 50 percent of its shopping centre holdings to private equity firm Blackstone for $480 million.
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Currently serving as Taubman Asia’s global head of leasing, Wright will officially take on his new role as president of the company effective 1 January.
Now a vice president with Taubman Asia, Wright will be relocating from the US to Hong Kong for the role and will report directly to Taubman Centers Chairman, President and CEO Robert Taubman. In his current position, Wright reports to Taubman Centers Chief Operating Officer, William Taubman.
“Paul’s significant relationships with global retailers and partners, and his knowledge of the Asia market, has been an important part of our business in the US and abroad,” Taubman said in a company statement. “This promotion is the natural next step for Paul, and his competencies will be essential as we prepare to open Starfield Anseong in South Korea in 2020 and evaluate other opportunities in the region.”
Taubman Asia announced in August 2018 that it had teamed up with Korea’s Shinsegae Group, its partner for the Starfield Hanam Shopping Center project near Seoul to build, lease and manage a 1.1 million square foot (102,000 square metre) shopping mall in Anseong, South Korea. Taubman credited Wright, who joined the company’s Asian affiliate in 2006 for his role in leasing Starfield Hanam as well as at its CityOn.Xi’an and CityOn.Zhengzhou projects in mainland China.
Wright also led leasing for the IFC Mall in Seoul, where Taubman provided leasing and management for the joint venture project developed by AIG Global Real Estate together with the Seoul municipal government.
Since being promoted to his current role in 2017, Wright has been working at Taubman’s headquarters in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, with the company crediting the executive for the successful leasing of its recent redevelopment projects – the Beverly Center in Los Angeles and The Mall at Green Hills in Nashville.
A native of Australia, Wright speaks Mandarin Chinese in addition to English and worked for Citta Management Ltd before joining Taubman, where he was responsible for leasing, property management and retail operations at the Taipei 101 Mall.
Sharp to Stay in Hong Kong
Wright’s appointment was unveiled at the same time that Taubman Centers announced that Sharp, the current head of Taubman Asia, had resigned as president, after taking on the position in January 2017.
“We thank Peter for his contributions and his steadfast commitment to driving the company’s growth in Asia,” Robert Taubman said, while wishing Sharp well in his future endeavours.
Before joining Taubman Asia, Sharp had spent 20 years with retailer Walmart, ultimately serving as president of Walmart Asia Realty where he oversaw the US firm’s Asia real estate portfolio and mall developments as well as taking responsibility for business planning, real estate, realty partnerships and mergers and acquisitions.
During Sharp’s time with the company, Taubman successfully negotiated the investment from Blackstone, through which the fund management giant purchased half of the mall developer’s equity in the Xi’an and Zhengzhou projects in China, along with half of its stake in the Hanam, South Korea project.
“Bringing in a strategic partner into the Asia platform was well executed and the organisation is geared up for additional expansion and a new chapter,” Sharp told Mingtiandi. The outgoing executive has not yet revealed his next role, but is understood to be staying in Hong Kong.