Howard Hughes Corp. Unveils Reorganization, Names New CEO

The planned transformation features selling non-core assets, reducing overhead and relocating the company's headquarters.
Paul Layne. Image courtesy of Howard Hughes Corp.

As part of a reorganization strategy, The Howard Hughes Corp. has appointed Paul Layne, president of HHC’s central region, as the firm’s new CEO. He succeeds David Weinreb, who along with Grant Herlitz, will step down from the company. Layne will also replace Weinreb on the board of directors at the firm.

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Along with the appointment of a new CEO, the national owner-developer unveiled a restructuring intended to consolidate and streamline its operations. The “transformation plan” is structured around the company’s master-planned communities business and will reduce overhead expenses by $45 million to $50 million per year and sell approximately $2 billion in non-core assets. Additionally, the company will move its headquarters from Dallas to The Woodlands, Texas, a northern suburb of Houston.

HHC’s move follows the announcement by the company’s board in June that it was studying strategic alternatives that could maximize shareholder value. At that time, Weinreb acknowledged that the company’s stock value was underperforming, despite continued solid results from land sales, the condominium business and net operating income.

Going Lean

In a statement, Layne promised a decentralized, leaner approach. The plan is intended to focus on driving growth within the company’s master planned communities assets, located in Texas, Maryland and Nevada. The $600 million in estimated proceeds from shedding non-core assets will be used for share repurchases and development opportunities with the master planned communities.

HHC’s new leader is a longtime company executive and industry veteran. Layne joined the firm in 2012 as executive vice president of master-planned communities. He was previously an executive vice president at Brookfield Properties Corp., where he oversaw a 9.7 million-square-foot portfolio in Houston’s central business district. Before Brookfield, Layne was president of Cullen Center and executive vice president at Trizec Properties, which was acquired by Brookfield in 2006.

Among HHC’s current projects are a 1.5 million-square-foot office tower scheduled to open in 2020 on the Chicago waterfront. In The Woodlands, where HHC’s future headquarters will be located, the company recently inked a deal to develop a Class A office property for Alight Solutions.