Howard Hughes Spinning Off Seaport, Vegas Assets, Tapping Casino Vet As CEO

Super Slots

Houston-based Howard Hughes Corp. is spinning off its assets in New York and Las Vegas into a new company, and it has tapped a Vegas veteran to lead the new business.

The Las Vegas Strip

Howard Hughes named Anton Nikodemus the CEO of Seaport Entertainment, the newly formed subsidiary that includes the firm's South Street Seaport holdings in Lower Manhattan, the Las Vegas Aviators Triple-A baseball team and its 80% stake in the air rights above Fashion Show Mall on the Las Vegas Strip, which it plans to develop into a new casino resort.

The spinoff, which is expected to be official by next year, also will include Howard Hughes’ $55M stake in Jean-Georges Restaurants, the company announced Thursday

Nikodemus joins the company from MGM Resorts International, where he was president of the division that oversaw The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, which MGM acquired for nearly $6B in 2021. He also has overseen the Bellagio, Aria Mandalay Bay and The Mirage.

"Anton is an outstanding leader in the entertainment and resort world. It speaks to the quality of our entertainment assets that we have been able to recruit an executive of his caliber to Howard Hughes," Howard Hughes Chairman Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square hedge fund owns roughly a third of the publicly traded real estate firm, said in a statement. "Anton's experience, track record, and superb leadership skills will facilitate the creation, management, and eventual spinoff of Seaport Entertainment, positioning it and Howard Hughes for greater success as more focused, easier-to-understand companies."

Over the summer, Howard Hughes won a legal tussle against a community organization in a New York appeals court that allowed it to move forward on a key piece of its Seaport development: a 25-story, 399-unit residential tower at 250 Water St. that will include about 100 affordable units.

"There is tremendous opportunity ahead as we harness the potential and unlock the value inherent in these one-of-a-kind assets located in New York and Las Vegas — two of our country's most dynamic entertainment destinations—and pursue new opportunities for accelerated growth,” Nikodemus said in a statement.

Howard Hughes created Seaport Entertainment to allow the parent company to focus entirely on its pure-play real estate and its master-planned communities, including three in the Houston area, Downtown Columbia, Maryland, and Summerlin outside Las Vegas. The spinoff is expected to be complete by year-end 2024.

The move and appointment come weeks after the Howard Hughes Board of Directors approved the firm’s restructuring into a holding company, which allows the firm to spin off portfolio assets into other entities. Howard Hughes saw its earnings drop after experiencing a 50% decline in land sales revenue because of a softening housing market, with S&P Global in August lowering the company’s credit rating from B+ to B.