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Scott Out, Rufrano In at Centro

Centro Properties CEO Andrew Scott has resigned. He is being replaced by Glenn Rufrano, who was the CEO of New Plan Excel, the firm Centro ran up a chunk of debt acquiring back in February 2007. The announcement comes along with the revelation that Centro is feuding with some of its lenders over what its actual liabilities are.

The Melbourne-based group, which is struggling to refinance A$3.9bn in debt, said it disputed suggestions from one set of creditors that it had defaulted on a US$450m private placement. It also said that it might have misclassified some of its debt and that its current liabilities might be higher than previously disclosed.

It's interesting timing for this change to be taking place. Centro had already announced it was up for sale and was soliciting bids to go along with what it hinted were numerous unsolicited offers. But now they're changing CEOs right in the middle of this process. I wonder if this indicates that Centro's board was unhappy with the way Scott was handling the potential sale of the company.

It's also interesting because one assumption was that Centro might sell off the company piecemeal, which could potentially have restored New Plan Excel as an independent entity again. That would have allowed Rufrano, perhaps, to have been back in control of the portfolio he and his team had worked the past decade putting together. But with this announcement for now, at least, Rufrano's now got to worry about Centro's Australian assets as well.

In any case, it makes for an interesting development given that we're exactly one month away from Centro's deadline with its lenders.

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