Howard Hughes Corp hires Centerview to explore options, including sale

(Reuters) - Howard Hughes Corp has hired Centerview Partners to explore strategic alternatives that include a sale of the company, the real estate developer said on Thursday.

A joint venture or spin-off of a portion of assets, recapitalization and changes to corporate structure were among the options being explored, the company said.

“The board and management are determined to close the significant gap between our share price and the company’s underlying net asset value,” Chief Executive David Weinreb said in a statement.

Shares of the company were up 35% at $125.00 in afternoon trading. The company’s stock had fallen the same 35% since it hit a high of $160.62 in September 2014.

CNBC had earlier reported on the search for strategic alternatives, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company has diverse assets and does not lend itself to the recurring and predictable cash flows real estate investors may be looking for, CNBC said, citing sources familiar with the board’s thinking.

Activist investor William Ackman, who runs Pershing Square Capital Management, is chairman of the company. His Pershing Square funds owned 2.7% of the company’s common stock at the end of March, and the firm had a total economic exposure of 12.6% through common stock and swaps, according to a regulatory filing.

Howard Hughes was formed in 2010 as a tax-free spinoff from General Growth Properties.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel and Tom Brown