Leadership shake-ups hit Vornado, Cushman & Wakefield and Howard Hughes

Changing market forces companies to reinvent themselves

National /
Dec.December 01, 2020 12:30 PM
From left: former Vornado CFO Joseph Macnow; ; Howard Hughes Corporation CEO David O’Reilly, former Cushman & Wakefield CFO Duncan Palmer (Photos via Vornado, Howard Hughes, Cushman & Wakefield)
From left: former Vornado CFO Joseph Macnow; ; Howard Hughes Corporation CEO David O’Reilly, former Cushman & Wakefield CFO Duncan Palmer (Photos via Vornado, Howard Hughes, Cushman & Wakefield)

Three major real estate firms announced shake-ups to their leadership teams this week.

Vornado Realty Trust’s chief financial officer Joseph Macnow is stepping down from the role and will be replaced by Michael Franco, the company’s president, the real estate investment trust announced Tuesday.

Macnow, who has been with Vornado since 1981, will stay on as a senior adviser to the firm.

The shake-up comes after the REIT, headed up by chairman Steve Roth, reported a $103 million impairment loss on its retail joint venture during the third quarter, although it recorded a net gain of $187 million from sales at 220 Central Park South, its ultra-luxury condo. The company’s office portfolio has also been hurt as employees continue to work from home in the pandemic.

The firm will reduce its overhead costs by more than $35 million annually by reducing compensation and shedding some 70 jobs.

Another major commercial firm, Cushman & Wakefield, will also see its CFO step down: Duncan Palmer, who joined Cushman in 2014, is leaving the company, according to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. His last day as a CFO is set for Feb. 28, 2021, and he will remain with the firm as a consultant until the end of next year. A Cushman spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Cushman suffered a net loss of $37.3 million in the third quarter, its second consecutive quarterly loss this year.

And finally, the Howard Hughes Corporation announced two changes to its executive leadership team: The company’s interim CEO David O’Reilly will now take on that role officially, and L. Jay Cross, who recently served as the president of Related Hudson Yards, has been tapped as the firm’s new president.

O’Reilly joined the firm as the chief financial officer in 2016 and was promoted to president in June. He became interim CEO when Paul Layne, who took the reins in October 2019, retired, according to the Houston Chronicle.

O’Reilly will continue to wear the CFO hat until a successor is identified.

“Watching him execute on the company’s strategic plan and pivot quickly to adjust to changed market conditions furthered our confidence in him as our new leader,” said Bill Ackman, the firm’s chairman.

Ackman also praised Cross’ “extraordinary development career” — which, along with Hudson Yards, includes leadership roles several sports teams and involvement in building stadium complexes in New Jersey, Toronto and Miami — noting that it aligns with Howard Hughes’ “vision to accelerate strategic development in its master planned communities, and build the cities of tomorrow.”






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