Potential Shift of Power on Horizon for Vegas Casino Empire
Ms. Elaine Wynn, co-founder of Las Vegas’s three revitalizing veteran resorts and casinos, the Mirage, Bellagio, and Wynn Resorts, and ex-wife of the resort’s fellow founder and current chief executive, Steve Wynn, has been, for various spoken reasons, recently denied the self-nominated revocation as a director on the resort’s Board of Directors. The beginning of this not-so-surprising outcome started through the majority-vote decision to disassemble Ms. Wynn’s seat during a meeting this past March, held by the $13 billion resort company’s corporate governance team.
The reason given by the ultimate power holders, namely the governance itself, as well as the, now, Caucasian-male-only, Board of Directors of Wynn Resorts and the company shareholder majority, is said to be the negative effect that the ex-power couple’s three year legal dispute has, so far, had on the overall economic health of the three resort/casinos that are widely credited to have rejuvenated, if not launched, Las Vegas’s casino and resort construction and financial boom just decades earlier.
This decision has been finalized even after it has continuously been well known by mutual friends and the public alike, that Elaine and Steve Wynn’s 2010 divorce had been one of the most mutually low-key, pleasant experiences of any high-society break-up to this day. Although, the two still seem to have much respect for the other, whether it be professionally or personally, their divorce was the most legally expensive decoupling endeavors to date, with an equal break between their shared estate, allegedly awarding each party a sum of $741 million.
The question should then be, what caused the Board of Directors to start undermining Elaine Wynn’s ability to help make and maintain the pertinent and relevant decisions it takes to manage a successful company such as Wynn Resorts in the first place? Her cause probably was not helped by the fact that her powerful ex-husband, along with his 25 years-his-junior and current wife, Andrea Hissom, has been serving as directors by her side before the fiasco had initially erupted.
Elaine Wynn is designated by The Forbes 400 as one of only 19 self-made, female billionaires; her net-worth is estimated to be $1.87 billion due to the ever improving worldwide economy. Even so, the native New Yorker and former Miss Miami beauty queen has stayed true to herself, valuing the time spent with her two daughters, also partners in the family hotel and casino business, as well as her and her former husband’s seven grandchildren. During the last segment of her Fall of 2012 interview with Sun Valley Home and Design’s journalist and freelance writer, Steve Friess, Ms. Wynn provided an eloquent hint as to who she is inside and what truly matters to her:
“I didn’t know when I married Steve Wynn that I would wind up in Las Vegas and that I would be in the casino business. I have always said that I put one foot in front of the other and what motivates me… are good, sound things to keep me productive and fulfilled… I am a serious-minded person, and I think now I was always on this path.”
Her “serious-minded” approach to matters of importance may have also been a factor in the decision to not re-appoint her to her seat. It is a matter of strategy. Shareholders may very well be shaken by what could happen if Elaine Wynn is awarded in favor of the federal court’s ruling on the matter of repealing an agreement made between her, her husband and Mr. Kazvo Okada, who was, at the time, the one with the most shares of the company; Elaine and Okada would have to consult Steve Wynn and receive his permission to trade stock if the total monetary movement were to be greater than $10 million.
Okada, who has been Steve Wynn’s long time :Asian connection, namely to the recently Chinese government regulated Macau, was previously a pursuant for and recipient of company legal suits because of the same reason, but has recently been given a redemption of his holdings by Wynn Resorts. After the decision was finalized during a meeting between approximately 200 shareholders on Friday, April 24th, Elaine responded through her sympathetic representatives by issuing this poignant, yet still hopeful statement
“While I am certainly disappointed by the result of today’s vote, I am hopeful that I have once again served as an agent for change and improvement for this company, which I love so deeply.” She added: “It remains to be seen if the directors of this company will deliver on the commitments they have made to greater independence, diversity and oversight of management. I, however, as the third-largest stockholder, remain committed to holding all accountable”.
According to William Thompson, an expert in the study of the economically fluctuating gambling industry and professor emeritus of the University of Nevada, Ms. Elaine Wynn has currently established herself as the sole “swing shareholder” that can, in the end, take everything away from her ex-husband, including the resorts, the money that comes with running them, and the lifestyle that he has gotten so used to over the past four decades after being widely dubbed, along with his ex-wife, “The First Couple of Las Vegas.”
Because of the overwhelming debt of their jointly shared company, if the lawsuit concludes in favor of Elaine Wynn, then Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts will have to buy back approximately $3 billion worth of company shares, possibly even ending their process on building themselves into the boom and ever increasing profit of the Asian gambling industry. Only if this scenario were to come into play would the next largest company investor, T. Rowe Price, rule the scene with their current, yet uncapped, 16.8 percent of total Wynn Resorts stock shares, the most shares held by an individual shareholder.