Elaine Wynn, now the largest shareholder in U.S.-based casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd, is asking the firm’s shareholders to block the re-election of current board member John J. Hagenbuch.
Mr Hagenbuch – who has served as a director since 2012 – is up for re-election at Wynn Resorts’ annual meeting, scheduled for May 16. He is a member of a special committe set up by the firm to probe allegations of sexual misconduct against former chairman and chief executive Steve Wynn. Mr Wynn has denied the claims, but resigned from the group in February and has since sold his entire stake in the firm.
Wynn Resorts is the parent company of Macau-based casino operator Wynn Macau Ltd. Mr Hagenbuch is not part of the board of Wynn Macau.
In a letter sent to shareholders on Monday, Ms Wynn – who controls 9.25-percent of Wynn Resorts’ stock – said Wynn Resorts was in need of a “new era”.
She added: “Although the board recently unilaterally appointed three new directors and indicated its intention to add more new directors in the coming months, I do not believe these steps go far enough toward changing ‘business as usual’ in Wynn Resorts’ boardroom. In particular, they do not address the number of longstanding legacy directors who will remain on the board.”
The reference to the three new directors was related to an announcement last week by Wynn Resorts it would expand its board to 11 members, adding three female independent directors.
Ms Wynn stated in her shareholder letter that “several longstanding legacy directors still wield significant influence” at the company. “This is especially true of Mr Hagenbuch, who serves on the special committee responsible for overseeing the investigation into allegations of Mr Wynn’s sexual harassment,” she added.
Ms Wynn said that, “given that Mr Hagenbuch is a long-time close friend of Mr Wynn’s, Mr Hagenbuch’s service on the special committee is disconcerting.”
In what the firm called a response to Ms Wynn’s shareholder letter, Wynn Resorts stated it was “continuing the positive momentum that has accompanied its recent initiatives and is focused on the future.”
The document added: “The board is working in an orderly fashion to refresh its composition, with three new experienced and distinguished directors being named last week. The board intends to continue its work.”
This is the latest episode of an ongoing conflict between Ms Wynn and the board of Wynn Resorts. Last week, the casino operator’s board rejected a request by Ms Wynn to reopen the window in which shareholders can nominate directors.
Earlier this month, Ms Wynn settled all litigation with her ex-husband Steve Wynn in exchange for US$25 million, and dropped all claims against Wynn Resorts.
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"Our main focus is just making sure – and particularly within Australia – to the maximum extent possible, that we can have uniformity [among different jurisdictions]"
Chief executive of the Australia-based Gaming Technologies Association