United States-based casino operator MGM Resorts International on Sunday said Bill Hornbuckle (pictured in a file photo), the firm’s chief operating officer and president, was taking over from Jim Murren as acting chief executive.
MGM Resorts is the parent of Macau licensee MGM China Holdings Ltd.
Mr Hornbuckle will remain as the firm’s president. The job of chairman, previously held by Mr Murren in tandem with the CEO position, will go to Paul Salem, currently a board member and chair of its real estate committee.
It had been announced in mid-February that Mr Murren would step down from his leadership position prior to the expiration of his contract, which was due to run until the end of 2021.
The firm said in the Sunday announcement that the outgoing CEO had “vacated the position as of today so as to provide continuity of leadership for the company,” during what it termed “the public health crisis gripping the nation and the travel industry”.
A week earlier, MGM Resorts International had announced the suspension of operations at its properties in Las Vegas, Nevada, amid concerns linked to the spread of the Covid-19 virus first reported in mainland China’s Hubei province and now spread across the world.
Days after MGM Resorts’ announcement about its Las Vegas operations, Nevada’s governor ordered a month-long closure – until at least mid-April – of the state’s casinos and other non-essential businesses like bars and cinemas, as part of efforts to contain the pandemic.
Mr Salem was quoted as saying in Sunday’s announcement about the leadership rejig: “Once the threat to the public health has subsided and we are ready to reopen our resorts and casinos, it will take an incredible effort to ramp back up…”
He added: “”We believe continued steady, skilled leadership is needed in this time of great upheaval and uncertainty.”
Referring to the new acting CEO Mr Hornbuckle, he added: “Bill is one of the most experienced operators in the business and we have confidence in his ability to bring this company back online.”
MGM Resorts – in common with other U.S. casino firms with exposure to Macau operations – had already been experiencing cost pressures relating to keeping on staff in the Macau market while casino gross gaming revenue has fallen sharply, coinciding with the pandemic and a curtailment of tourism numbers from mainland China. Last week several brokerages said they expected Macau’s March GGR to fall year-on-year by between 70 percent and 80 percent.
In late February, GGRAsia reported that MGM China had asked lenders to ease financial covenants related to a HKD9.75-billion (US$1.26 billion) credit facility, amid the negative impact that the novel coronavirus has had on the city’s gaming industry.
Mr Salem described the outgoing CEO Mr Murren as “an outstanding leader who transformed MGM Resorts during his 22 years”.
“Since Jim announced his stepping down from MGM Resorts, we felt that now more than ever, continuity of leadership was of vital importance,” added the new chairman.
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