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Can Abacus Property Group’s new CEO send the share price higher?

The Abacus Property Group (ASX: ABP) share price has plummeted over the last couple of months, shedding about 14 per cent since mid-December when the company’s shares were going for more than $4.20.

Abacus Property shares are now trading for around $3.59.

Abacus Property, with a market value of more than $2 billion, is a Sydney-based real estate investment group and holds a portfolio that includes offices, retail centres and industrial spaces across Australia and New Zealand.

In financial year (FY) 2017 Abacus reported an underlying profit of about $187 million, up 51 per cent on the previous year.

It appears the bump in profit was kicked along by $10 million of additional net rental income across the company’s commercial and self-storage portfolios and $30 million of profits from residential development projects.

The company, with a history of buying undervalued assets, also acquired 7 commercial properties totalling over $205 million in value and sold 4 commercial properties for more than $160 million during FY 2017.

But Abacus’s share price started to sink in December amid sombre news surrounding Australia’s property market.

Still, despite the recent drop in the company’s share price, Abacus shareholders have enjoyed returns exceeding 25 per cent over the past year.

Now Abacus’s management is set to undergo a major transition after Managing Director Dr Frank Wolf announced he is to retire on 1 July 2018 after more than 21 years with the company.

Dr Wolf said he is retiring for personal reasons.

“The timing has been influenced by the fact that I will turn 65 on the 1st of July and a recent health issue which is being well managed,” Dr Wolf said.

Dr Wolf is to be replaced by the company’s Chief Investment Officer and Head of Strategy Steven Sewell.

Mr Sewell has previously held senior roles at Macquarie Group Limited (ASX: MQG) and was recently as the managing director and CEO of Federation Centres, now known as Vicinity Centres Re Ltd (ASX: VCQ).

Dr Wolf said he will continue working with the board and the executive team to ensure a “smooth transition”.

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Motley Fool contributor Steve Holland has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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