Land Securities chief executive Francis Salway paid tribute to chairman Peter Birch after it was confirmed this morning that he would step down from the position

In a statement made to the stock exchange, Salway praised Birch’s contribution to the company during his nine year stint at the helm. He will step down on 1 January, to be replaced by former Marks & Spencer chairman Paul Myners.

His final act as chairman was to oversee the £927m purchase of infrastructure investment and management group Secondary Market Infrastructure Fund, from a consortium led by private equity investor Star Capital Partners.

Land Securities bought the fund through its property management outsourcing and public private partnerships business Land Securities Trillium.

Salway said: ‘Peter made a tremendous contribution to the group as chairman, working with the executive management team to transform the group from a diversified investment and development company into a highly focused, modern, commercial property company.

‘Peter’s influence on the strategic direction of the group has been invaluable and his vision has resulted in sustained value creation for shareholders. Together with my fellow board directors and colleagues across the group, I would like to thank him for his wise counsel, enthusiasm and boundless energy. We wish him well.’

Birch said: ‘It has given me enormous satisfaction to see Land Securities achieve so much over the past few years, during which time its has reaffirmed its market leading position in the UK quoted property sector. It has been a great honour to lead the company during this period of sustained change and I would like to wish my colleagues continued success in the future.’