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Elaine Wynn Disappointed By Ouster, But Says Fight Was Worth It

Wynn Las Vegas
"Wynn 2 (2)" by Almc1217 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Stakeholders voted to keep Elaine Wynn off the Wynn Resorts board Friday. Despite the vote, Wynn says she's happy she fought for her position.

Elaine Wynn has lost her battle to stay on the board of the company she co-founded with ex-husband Steve Wynn.

Wynn Resorts Ltd. shareholders made the decision during an annual meeting at the Encore Las Vegas Friday morning.  Steve Friess, who wrote about the meeting for The New York Times, told KNPR’s State of Nevada John J. Hagenbuch and J. Edward Virtue were elected to the seven-member board.

Elaine Wynn admitted she was disappointed with the vote, but as one of the largest shareholders, she will continue to look to improve the company.  Wynn had been a company director since 2002.

Freiss said Wynn will still be the third largest shareholder in Wynn Resorts.

“What this has all been about … is that Elaine want more control over her assets,” Friess told KNPR. “She wants to sell as much of it as she wants and the company doesn’t want that because there is a potential if she sells too much of the stock someone could take control of the company from Steve.”

The board’s governance committee decided in March to eliminate her seat and endorse the two other incumbent board members. Wynn Resorts said they took the step because her recent actions were not in the best interest of the gaming company.

Among the concerns was Wynn’s lawsuit against her ex-husband seeking to be released from a shareholder agreement, which requires Steve Wynn’s permission for her to sell anything more than $10 million in stock a year.

The shareholder agreement was part of the couple’s 2010 divorce, in which Elaine Wynn received half of her husband’s shares in the company. She is suing for the right to liquidate as much of her assets as she wanted.

Meanwhile, when asked by a shareholder Friday when the Boston-area casino will open, Steve Wynn said the $1.6 billion resort-casino in Everett, Mass., “should open (by) the end of 2017.” The Massachusetts Gaming Commission in September choose Wynn Resorts over a locally backed project by Mohegan Sun at Suffolk Downs racetrack.   

Wynn Resorts will report its first quarter earnings on Tuesday after the market closes. A Union Gaming Research report issued Monday expects Wynn Resorts to post companywide revenue of $1.16 billion, with Las Vegas contributing $408 million and Macau generating $758.4 million.   

“Like so many operators with operations in Macau and Las Vegas, we are expecting divergent performance, with Las Vegas improving as the market continues to be on the rise,” analyst Christopher Jones wrote in a research report. “This is in contrast to the well-documented softer performance from Macau, as the combination of a Chinese government corruption crackdown and growing pressure from a slowing Chinese economy, weighs on performance for all operators in the market.”

Jones expected an update on Tuesday’s conference call on progress with Wynn Palace, the company’s current development in the Cotai region of Macau. During a fourth quarter conference call. Wynn Resorts announced that “due to a softer allocation of labor, they expected the project to open in the second quarter of 2015 versus the first quarter” of next year.

Steve Friess, freelance reporter

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