EPRA Chairman Christophe Cuvillier sees changing Solvency II rules as a key challenge for his successor, Rolf Buch

EPRA’s Chairman, Christophe Cuvillier, expects changing the rules for insurers on the capital requirement for listed real estate to be the key issue facing his successor when he steps down in September. Cuvillier, who is CEO of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, discusses his work over the past two years as Chair of EPRA’s Board.

Christophe Cuvillier

Christophe Cuvillier has been EPRA’s Chairman since 2016. He is CEO of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, the new name of the company that he has led since 2013, following the completion of its takeover of Westfield earlier this month. He joined Unibail-Rodamco in 2011 as COO after a decade at the Kering Group where he held various senior roles, including CEO of retailer FNAC retail and of the home furnishings chain Conforama. The first 14 years of his career were at L’Oreal.

Rolf Buch, CEO of Vonovia, has been nominated to replace Cuvillier – an appointment scheduled to be adopted at the EPRA Annual General Meeting in September.

How will your chairmanship of EPRA be remembered?

We accelerated the implementation of the strategic plan shaped by the member survey in late 2015.
I am particularly pleased with the changes that took place in EPRA’s Board representation: we increased investor representation, ensured Board members adhere to the highest Best Practices Recommendations (BPR) standards, reached the right geographic mix and enabled an appropriate level of representation for small companies. I am very happy with the significantly improved transparency and trust among Board members.
Dominique Moerenhout was recruited as our new CEO, and we worked very closely together to set EPRA’s 2020 objectives. The organisation is in good hands!
I would like to also express my sincere gratitude to Philip Charls for his continuous dedication during all these years at EPRA.

Did you achieve all your objectives for EPRA?

You never can! Implementing the new governance, helping Dominique to settle in and hitting the ambitious BPR compliance targets ahead of schedule were particularly gratifying. We made progress on improving the investor outreach programme.
The REIT regimes are solid in Europe, but there is definitely still a long way to go in countries like Poland and Sweden. The Paris Conference was very good, London was excellent, and Berlin will even be better! I think EPRA is on track to reach its 2020 objectives.

What have you gained from the time you invested as EPRA Chairman?

I gained new insights into what shapes the real estate industry: policy. I also forged new and deep relations through sharing my experiences and learned from other sectors and industries from across the world.

What is the most pressing issue currently facing EPRA?

The priority is to work hard to amend the Solvency II rules in order to give equal capital weighting to listed and direct property investments. We also have to continuously work on implementing our 2020 agenda for the outreach to institutional and generalist investors, and to explain, again and again, the merits of the listed real estate sector.

What is the best piece of advice for Rolf Buch on the EPRA chairmanship?

Without a doubt, being well organised will be key!
I must confess that the past two years have been quite intense… but I bear full responsibility for this since I chose to conduct the acquisition of Westfield while simultaneously chairing EPRA! I therefore recommend to Rolf that he thinks twice before launching a major transaction under his chairmanship!
Joking aside, I wish him the best of luck for his mandate and am sure his years as Chairman will be very successful for EPRA.