WYNN reduces board size from 12 to 9

Dec 17, 2012 6:36 PM

Two of Steve Wynn’s closest associates in Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) are giving up their positions as members of the company’s board of directors in what the company has categorized as repositioning itself to attain maximum growth.

Mark Schorr and Linda Chen are relinquishing their director’s posts but will retain their corporate positions and will remain on the board of directors of the company’s Macau subsidiary, Wynn Macau Ltd. Also leaving the board are Allan Zeman, who will continue as vice chairman of Wynn Macau Ltd., and Russell Goldsmith. Being added to WYNN’s board of directors is Jay Hagenbuch, chairman and founder of a pair of investment firms.

Being emphasized is the fact that with the changes the company’s board of directors will have a majority of independent directors.

The move was announced last week when Wynn said the company would reduce the number of directors from the current 12 to 9. Also, there will be a special meeting of the stockholders to consider removing former major shareholder Kazuo Okada from the board, thus reducing the number of directors to eight. A two-thirds vote will be necessary to remove Okada.

“By streamlining the board and eliminating an unsuitable director, the company will be well-positioned to capitalize on the enormous opportunities in the market and execute our ambitious expansion plans,” Chairman and CEO Wynn said in a statement.

That “unsuitable” director, Okada, has responded by filing a lawsuit in the Philippines charging that Steve Wynn had “libeled” Okada with allegations of improper payments made to Philippine officials to receive a gaming license in that country.

The suit was filed by Okada’s Universal Entertainment Corp. through its Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment Inc. subsidiary in the Philippines.

Wynn called the suit “baseless.”

Universal also announced it had taken on a partner for the development of a $2.3 billion casino in Manila. The partner was identified as Robinsons Land Corp., a company controlled by billionaire John Gokongwei.

Exactly what will be involved in the partnership will not be known until a final contract is signed on Jan. 31, 2013, officials said.

Philippine officials have already indicated that should bribery accusations against Okada be proven,  they will cancel the gaming license. Analysts noted that Gokongwei is considered a highly conservative businessman who probably “weighed the risks” before forging the partnership with Okada. They felt Gokongwei could apply for the license alone if the Okada allegations are proven.

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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