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Best of Chris Sieroty

Gaming Guru

Chris Sieroty
 

Wynn Resorts plans to remove Okada from company board

17 December 2012

LAS VEGAS -- Wynn Resorts, Limited, the gaming company controlled by Steve Wynn, is seeking to remove co-founder Kazuo Okada from its board, the latest round in a heavyweight fight between the two former friends and business partners.

Wynn Resorts said in a filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission it plans a special meeting to vote on Okada's removal. A two-thirds vote of the shareholders is required to remove Okada, whose nearly 20 percent stake was seized by the company earlier this year.

Okada, who is chairman of Tokyo-based Universal Entertainment Corp., was also removed from the board of directors of Wynn Macau Ltd., a subsidiary of the Las Vegas-based company. Universal owns Aruze USA, a slot machine manufacturer in Las Vegas that has been licensed in Nevada since 2004.

Wynn Resorts also said it will reduce the number of board members to nine from 12 and increase the ratio of independent directors. If Okada is removed, there will be eight directors.

No date was announced for the special shareholder meeting on Okada. A date will be set after the SEC reviews the company's filing.

"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," Wynn said.

Shares of Wynn Resorts closed down 47 cents, or 0.41 percent, to $113.75 on Friday.

UBS on Friday downgraded Wynn from "buy" to "neutral" with a price target of $118 due to the lack of catalysts in the near term to drive the share price higher, as well as challenges presented by the Cotai parcel. UBS had a previous price target of $129.

Analysts surveyed by Yahoo Finance expect fourth-quarter earnings of $1.28 a share on revenue of $1.28 billion, and 2012 earnings of $5.46 a share on revenue of $5.15 billion.

The move to oust Okada comes as Wynn Resorts moves forward with its $4 billion resort on the Cotai Strip in Macau, as well as possible casinos outside Boston and in Philadelphia.

Wynn said the company's efforts in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania "would not be possible with an unsuitable director and which will benefit from a streamlined board with greater independent representation."

In a statement, Wynn Resorts said Jay Hagenbuch, chairman of real estate investment companies M&H Realty Partners and WestLand Capital Partners, has been appointed an independent director and a member of the audit committee. Russell Goldsmith and Allan Zeman have stepped down as independent directors on the board.

Goldsmith is chairman and CEO of City National Bank, while Zeman sits on a number of corporate boards, including the Sino Land Co. Ltd. The company said Zeman will continue to serve as a director of Wynn Macau and vice chairman of Wynn Macau.

Linda Chen and Marc Schorr have stepped down from the board, but will continue to serve as executives with the gaming company.
Wynn Resorts plans to remove Okada from company board is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.