PRAGUE, March 19 Orco Property Group's founder
Jean-Francois Ott is leaving his role as chief executive in a
management shake-up that illustrates the company's biggest
shareholder tightening its control over the central European
real estate developer.
Ott started Orco in Prague over two decades ago but the
company with properties around central Europe has been slow to
recover after getting hit hard in the global financial crisis.
Ott will stay on as board chairman, Orco said on Wednesday.
The board, controlled by Czech real estate investor Radovan
Vitek, who has become the largest Orco shareholder since buying
into the company in 2012, appointed Tomas Salajka as a new CEO.
"Today the company begins a new step along what I know will
be a long and successful path," Ott said in the company's
"I wish the best of luck to the new management and offer
them my full support as I continue to work with the company at
the board level."
Orco's board also ended executive contracts for Nicolas
Tommasini, Ales Vobruba and Brad Taylor. Jiri Dedera was named
managing director of Orco.
At Orco's subsidiary Orco Germany, in which Vitek has also
boosted his stake, Ott, Tommasini and Taylor were also removed
as executives, although Ott and Tommasini will remain on the
board, the company said in a separate statement.
Martin Nemecek will become Orco Germany's CEO and Edward
Hughes will head the board, with Salajka as deputy CEO.
Orco Germany last week announced its first real estate
acquisition in seven years, helped by capital increases in
recent months that have been taken up separately by both Ott and
Vitek, one of the top real estate investors in the Czech
Republic, has said that the group needs more funding and that
Orco Germany is its only significant liquid asset.
He was able to remove Orco board members representing two
U.S. funds that battled him over strategy in January.
Orco posted a 142.4 million euro net loss in the first nine
months of 2013 after taking impairment charges on some projects.
The company, founded in 1991, has properties in the Czech
Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany and Poland, including the
192-metre Zlota 44 residential tower in Warsaw.
(Reporting by Jason Hovet, editing by David Evans)