LONDON-Paul Myners, former chairman of British retailer Marks & Spencer, will take the reins as the new chairman of Land Securities, UK’s largest property company. The current chairman, Peter Birch, is stepping down after eight years.

The decision to appoint Myners was made by a two-man nominations committee which included Stuart Rose, chief executive of Marks and Spencer and a non-executive director of the property group. The euro 365,371 ($460,034) a year appointment comes at a point when Land Securities is set to convert into a REIT on Jan. 1.

Myners, 58, will join the board on Sept. 1 and become chairman in January. He may choose to take a higher profile than Birch, 69, who has been less visible than the group’s chief executive Francis Salway. Birch’s departure comes at a period of change in the industry and follows Sir John Ritblat’s announcement he would retire as chairman of British Land.

Myners is a high profile figure in Britain’s financial world. He is chairman of the Guardian Media Group (GMG), the Low Pay Commission, the Aspen reinsurance company and the Ermitage hedge fund. He also sits on the board of opera house at Glyndebourne, advisors the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. and on the Smith Institute, a right wing economic think-tank.

Birch, who became chairman in July 1998, was chief executive of Abbey National from 1984 to 1998, and oversaw the transition from building society to bank. He has stewarded Land Securities through a time of rapid change. Once seen as dull, the group is now behind London’s largest development program. It has an outsourcing wing via its Trillium division.

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