* Company beats own guidance for 2012 profits
* New chief Christophe Cuvillier to start in April
* Strategic focus on big malls to deliver more growth (Adds detail, background)
PARIS, Jan 30 European real-estate group Unibail Rodamco named a new chief executive on Wednesday and said it would boost earnings power in 2013 on the back of new shopping-mall developments and tenants' sales.
The company, which owns a commercial property portfolio mostly made up of large European shopping centres, is focusing on its biggest urban malls to up its rental power while selling off smaller assets that it sees as more vulnerable to consumer belt-tightening.
The strategy paid off in 2012, with Unibail reporting a 10 percent rise in annual net profit, to 1.46 billion euros ($1.98 billion). On a per-share basis, recurring profits rose by 6.7 percent - better than company guidance of 4 percent growth - and Unibail also hiked its dividend by 5 percent, to 8.40 euros.
For 2013, Unibail said it would deliver a 5 percent increase in recurring profits per share and named executive Christophe Cuvillier as a replacement for outgoing CEO Guillaume Poitrinal, starting in April. It also said that it was targeting 14 euros in recurring profits per share by 2017.
"Unibail expects to deliver strong earnings growth in the future," Poitrinal said in a statement.
New developments due to be unveiled next year include extensions of Unibail malls in the French cities of Rennes and Dijon as well as the Czech capital Prague. The company will also open a shopping centre at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
Unibail's pursuit of more upscale retail tenants has seen it focus more on leisure and cinema activities at its malls and on signing up more "premium" brands over the past three years such as Apple, Starbucks and Tommy Hilfiger.
($1 = 0.7370 euros) (Reporting By Lionel Laurent, editing by Blaise Robinson)