Harrah’s chief Satre steps down to step up?

September 10, 2002 8:50 AM
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Phil Satre, the new Kirk Kerkorian?

   The Harrah's Entertainment boss is stepping down from his post as chairman and CEO, but he's not going to fade away.

   "I've never aspired to early retirement,'' he said. "My hero is (MGM Mirage majority owner) Kirk Kerkorian. If I could write a script, I'd like to still be active at his age.''

   The 53-year-old plans to spend more time at his home in Northern California next year after turning over the reins to Gary Loveman. Don't look for this Stanford grad to fritter away much time on the links, however.

   He has a two-year deal to chair Harrah's board of directors and its executive committee, while continuing to serve as the company's representative to the American Gaming Association. After that? Satre isn't saying, but sources speculate that, a la Kerkorian, a universe of new ventures lies ahead.

   Though terms of his departure were not divulged, Satre has done well for himself. Forbes rated his $2.5 million compensation package this year as 17th best in the entertainment sector and 104th among all CEOs. That's a big improvement from 302nd in 2001. In May, Chief Executive Magazine named Satre one of the nation's top 100 CEOs.

   "He's a hot commodity,'' said one executive recruiter.

   During Satre's eight-year tenure as chief executive, Harrah's bought the Rio, the Showboat in Atlantic City, N.J., and Harveys at Lake Tahoe. The firm expanded to 19 U.S. markets, and built a diverse database of 25 million customers. Building its annual revenues from $500 million to $4 billion, Harrah's has 42,000 employees at 26 casino properties.

   "As CEO, I've achieved the goals I set for myself -- to position Harrah's for sustainable revenue and earnings growth and to distinguish it from other gaming companies,'' Satre said.