Atrium hires finance chief

The transformation of Atrium European Real Estate continues with the hire of a chief financial officer.

Atrium European Real Estate, the owner, operator and developer of shopping centres in Central and Eastern Europe, has hired Robert Bolier as chief financial officer as the transformation of the company continues.

Bolier joins from recycling company Meretec, the firm said today.

The appointment is the latest at Atrium since a €800 million ($1.2 billion) capital injection into the Vienna-listed company by Citi Property Investors and Israel-based Gazit-Globe last year.

Rachel Lavine, the firm’s newly installed chief executive officer drafted in by the investors, said of the latest hire that Bolier’s financial management, strategic implementation, shareholder relations and corporate governance would help Atrium grow as a result. “Additionally, his experience working for publicly listed companies will be particularly useful as we maintain the highest standards of corporate governance, investor relations and financial regulation,” she said.

Atrium, formerly called Meinl European Land, incurred the wrath of shareholders in 2007 when it executed a surprise share buyback. The decision to buy back 17 percent of its shares for €1.1 billion was done without shareholder approval and led to a loss of credibility and concerns about governance. The action sparked a strategic review of the company.

Other hires at the firm include former Morgan Stanley Properties executive Dominique Beghin to oversee the company’s development pipeline and Nils-Christian Hakert, who was hired as chief operating officer last year.

New York-based CPI, the property investment arm of Citi Alternative Investments led by Roger Orf, and Gazit-Globe, finalized their investment in Meinl in August 2008. The company has more than 160 properties across the Central and Eastern European region, with 34 properties under development and redevelopment. It also owns a land bank of 11 parcels of land with more than 1.9 million square meters of developable land.