The board of U.S.-based casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd has reportedly rejected a candidate proposed by majority shareholder Elaine Wynn as chairman or vice chairman of the firm. That is according to a statement to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday by Ms Wynn.
The filing did not identify the candidate proposed by Ms Wynn. A report by Bloomberg News identified the person as Phil Satre, the former chief executive of Harrah’s Entertainment, now called Caesars Entertainment Corp. He is currently chairman of casino equipment maker International Game Technology Plc.
The news agency said Mr Satre had confirmed to Bloomberg he withdrew his name from consideration for a Wynn Resorts board seat, but Mr Sartre did not provided further details about the matter.
Wynn Resorts is the parent company of Macau casino operator Wynn Macau Ltd. The parent firm has expressed interest in bidding for a potential casino licence in Japan.
In her latest filing, Ms Wynn stated that her proposed candidate was “extremely well-qualified”, having served “on the boards of at least six public companies, including as chairman of the board of three public companies, and has extensive credibility with gaming industry regulators”. The document added that the person was not a “close associate” of Ms Wynn.
The filing said “the reason provided for [Wynn Resorts] board’s decision was that neither the nominating and corporate governance committee nor the full board wanted to bring in an outsider as a vice chairman, despite the candidate’s qualifications.”
Ms Wynn further added that, “in an effort to resolve differences between the company and herself, [she] had offered to sign a multi-year standstill in exchange for the candidate’s appointment as chairman.”
The filing stated that the candidate had “made a board leadership position (chair or vice chair) an express condition to his willingness to join the board, because he felt that a leadership role would be necessary for him to be in a position to help address the company’s regulatory issues.”
The document added: “While the board offered the candidate a board seat, the board did so knowing that it would not meet the candidate’s condition, and he declined.”
In the filing, Ms Wynn again called for all board members of Wynn Resorts to be elected annually. She also expressed concerns that the board “would do something inappropriate with respect to the terms of the departure of Kim Sinatra,” arguing that Wynn Resorts should seek advice whether to consider this a ‘for cause’ termination. Ms Sinatra will cease to serve as the company’s executive vice president, general counsel and secretary with effect from July 15.
Wynn Resorts has been under pressure from Ms Wynn, a co-founder of the firm, and from some investor advisory firms, to bring in new faces at senior level since the publicity given in January to allegations that former chairman and chief executive Steve Wynn had sexually harassed employees. The entrepreneur has denied the claims, and eventually left the firm in February.
The structure of the Wynn Resorts’ board has changed dramatically over the past three months, with 60 percent of the directors that had been in place at the start of the year now having departed.
The casino company announced in April the appointment of three new directors for its board, all of them women.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China