Howard Hughes Corp. CEO Paul Layne retires after year that saw company move HQ to The Woodlands, purchase of former Occidental towers

The Howard Hughes Corp. purchased The Woodlands Towers at The Waterway in December while Paul Layne was CEO. (Courtesy The Howard Hughes Corp.)
The Howard Hughes Corp. purchased The Woodlands Towers at The Waterway in December while Paul Layne was CEO. (Courtesy The Howard Hughes Corp.)

The Howard Hughes Corp. purchased The Woodlands Towers at The Waterway in December while Paul Layne was CEO. (Courtesy The Howard Hughes Corp.)

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Howard Hughes Corp. CEO Paul Layne announced his retirement Sept. 17. (Courtesy The Howard Hughes Corp.)

Paul Layne, who has led The Howard Hughes Corp. through the company's transition this year as it planned to move its headquarters from Dallas to Houston, announced his retirement Sept. 17, and the company this week named David O'Reilly the interim CEO.

O'Reilly was previously the company's president and chief financial officer.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic began the company had been through a series of major changes in the preceding year.

In 2019, the company announced a plan through which it would focus on its master-planned communities and sell off noncore assets. Master-planned communities in the Greater Houston area include The Woodlands, The Woodlands Hills in Conroe and Bridgeland.

The company also moved headquarters from Dallas to Houston, where it purchased 1.4 million square feet of office space and land as part of The Woodlands Towers at The Waterway for $565 million. The towers, previously known as the Anadarko towers, became property of Occidental Petroleum Corp. when that company acquired Anadarko in a $55 billion deal in August 2019.



Layne, who was with the company for nine years, will also step down from the board of directors, according to a Howard Hughes Corp. news release.

Company officials said they valued Layne's leadership during the pandemic this year.

"Paul's superb oversight of the development of The Woodlands and his strong stewardship during the pandemic have created and preserved tremendous value for our shareholders, positioning Howard Hughes for long-term success," said Bill Ackman, the chair of The Howard Hughes Corp board.

O'Reilly had been CFO at the company since 2016 and was appointed president in June, according to a news release. The company's board of directors will conduct a search for a permanent CEO.

"It has been an exceptionally fulfilling privilege to lead The Howard Hughes Corporation through such a critical period in the company's history," Layne said in a statement. "Together, we have come through stronger than ever, and I am incredibly proud of all we have achieved."

By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


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