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Best of Chris Sieroty

Gaming Guru

Chris Sieroty
 

Wynn Resorts shareholders oust Okada from board

25 February 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Wynn Resorts, Limited reported Friday that its shareholders voted overwhelmingly to remove Kazuo Okada from its board of directors.

Okada, co-founder and onetime largest shareholder in Wynn Resorts, resigned from the board Thursday, ending one phase of a long-running legal battle with CEO Steve Wynn.

The Las Vegas-based gaming company reported more than 86 million shares voted and Okada's removal was approved by 99.6 percent of the shares voting at the special meeting. At the time of Okada's resignation, virtually all stockholder votes had already been cast.

Wynn Resorts has alleged that Okada acted improperly with Philippine gaming officials. Okada has argued that Steve Wynn wanted him out to increase Wynn's own control of the publicly traded company.

Shareholders on Friday also approved a proposal to reduce the company's board from 12 to eight directors, including six independent directors.

Okada's Universal Entertainment Corp. questioned the need for a special meeting.

"This special meeting … has no purpose and no ability to move the business of Wynn Resorts forward," a Universal statement claimed Friday. "We believe that burdening the company and its shareholders with the expense of this meeting also raises questions in terms of legality."

Universal stated the meeting was the "latest misguided step in Mr. Wynn's retaliatory campaign to attack and discredit Mr. Okada," and that holding the meeting was a "wasteful charade."

Shareholder approval of the proposal cuts Okada's last official ties to Wynn Resorts, a company he helped launch in November 2000 with a $260 million investment. Okada, 70, remains a major creditor and is owed $1.9 billion from Wynn Resorts.

Wynn Resorts seized Okada's 20 percent stake in the company last year at a 30 percent discount, giving the Japanese billionaire a 10-year promissory note valued at $1.9 billion.

In 2011, Okada was removed as a director of Wynn Macau Ltd., a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts, which operates Wynn Las Vegas, Encore on the Strip, and Wynn Macau.

The company recently began building a $3.5 billion property in Cotai, and has also bid for gaming licenses in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Shares of Wynn Resorts gained $1.81, or 1.57 percent, on Friday to close at $117.34 on the Nasdaq.