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Summerlin developer Hughes Corp. sees another shake-up at the top

Updated September 21, 2020 - 5:43 pm

The chief executive of Summerlin developer Howard Hughes Corp. has stepped down after less than a year at the helm.

Paul Layne retired as CEO on Thursday and will leave the board of directors as well, Hughes Corp. announced Monday. The company’s president and chief financial officer, David O’Reilly, has been named interim chief executive.

A former regional president with the developer, Layne took the top post in October as part of a broader corporate shake-up, after Hughes Corp. weighed a possible sale of the company.

Layne, who was promoted just months before the coronavirus pandemic upended daily life with sweeping business closures and other chaos around the U.S., oversaw the sale of “non-core” assets and the company’s move to a new corporate headquarters within Texas, a news release said.

Hughes Corp. chairman Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge-fund operator, said in the release, in part, that Layne provided “strong stewardship during the pandemic” and positioned the company “for long-term success.”

The board will search for a permanent CEO, the company said.

Hughes Corp., which has projects and properties in multiple states, sells land to homebuilders in Summerlin, Las Vegas’ largest master-planned community.

Summerlin spans 22,500 acres along the valley’s western rim, commands some of the highest home and land prices in Southern Nevada, and is one of the top spots in the country for builders’ sales.

Hughes Corp. also owns the Aviators minor league baseball team; its stadium, Las Vegas Ballpark; and the Downtown Summerlin open-air mall across the street from the ballpark.

Hughes Corp. announced in June 2019 that it was considering, among other things, a possible sale of the company in an effort to “maximize shareholder value.”

Months later, it announced that Layne had replaced chief executive David Weinreb, that company president Grant Herlitz was leaving, and that it wanted to sell about $2 billion worth of non-core assets and reduce overhead by $45 million to $50 million annually through organizational changes.

At the time, it also cited 8 million square feet of “near-term” development opportunities in Summerlin.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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