The manager of 180 properties across Hong Kong has lost its chief operating officer, Ross O'Toole, after less than two years amid rumours that more senior staff may desert The Link Management. In a statement, O'Toole said his decision to resign followed improvements in how The Link's shopping centres were run.
'Improvements in our assets through redevelopment and the opportunity to work with some great people have been highlights for me. I feel the time is right to move on to pursue other opportunities,' he said.
O'Toole, who joined The Link Management in May 2008, will leave when his replacement has been hired. The Link Management runs the properties of The Link Reit, the largest property investment trust in Hong Kong, which owns 180 properties comprising shopping centres and car parks.
Link insiders close to O'Toole said he was brought in from Australia for a few years to better manage the properties. But The Link's highly politicised and very local profile probably gave O'Toole, who had never been to Hong Kong, early cultural shock, prompting him to seek opportunities elsewhere, the insiders said.
The Link operates a listed portfolio of shopping malls and car parks it took over from the Housing Authority. To boost the return for investors, The Link is upgrading its restaurants and adjusting the tenant mix to better suit a younger target market to revitalise the properties. But its rent increases drew public anger at The Link, which was accused of putting profits ahead of social responsibility.
Recent staff additions suggest more local faces are being hired to smooth relations with tenants. In January, Poon Kai-tik joined as director of corporate communications and strategy.