Land Securities, the UK’s largest listed property company, has hired The Crown Estate’s deputy head of legal Alex Peeke as head of legal, taking over the day-to-day conduct of the legal function and operations and reporting to group general counsel (GC) and company secretary Adrian de Souza.
Peeke (pictured) has been with The Crown Estate, which owns an £8bn-plus portfolio of commercial property, since 2009. He is responsible for the day-to-day management of legal risk and is the legal lead on joint ventures, which have become the most important feature of the implementation of The Crown Estate’s redevelopment strategy for its prestigious Central London estate.
Selected by Legal Business as one of 101 in-house ‘Rising Stars’ for 2014, Peeke served as an officer in the British Army for five years before becoming a solicitor at Slaughter and May, leaving after six years to join Macfarlanes. Nicholas Cheffings, chair of Hogan Lovells, said: ‘Alex is a tremendous lawyer. He is commercial and pragmatic, truly understands the real estate industry and the business he represents, and he is great to work with.’
Vivienne King, The Crown Estate’s director of business operations and GC, said: ‘Alex has been a superb leader of The Crown Estate legal team with an excellent portfolio behind him and although we will be very sorry to see him go, this is a tremendous opportunity for Alex to continue to build his career.’
Peeke replaces Clive Ashcroft, who is retiring after 32 years with Land Securities. One insider said: ‘He has made a really strong contribution to Land Securities and the industry as a whole, having seen an awful lot of change in his time.’
Land Securities is listed in the top 50 of the FTSE 100 (currently at 48) and has £12bn of commercial property in the UK, including offices in One New Change; New Street Square; the iconic Piccadilly Lights in London; the Walkie Talkie building, which is a joint venture with Canary Wharf; and 29 national retail parks.
The property giant completed its panel review towards the beginning of last year, which was overseen by de Souza, in which Hogan Lovells and Herbert Smith Freehills won a place alongside existing advisers Nabarro, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Dundas & Wilson, Eversheds and Berwin Leighton Paisner.
Peeke’s appointment comes after Nationwide Building Society last month appointed HSBC’s European legal chief Keith Ford to replace group general counsel Liz Kelly, who announced last autumn that she is leaving to pursue outside interests.
Ford, who is currently HSBC’s global GC for Europe, with experience in retail, wealth management and commercial legal work, will start the new role in July.