Elaine Wynn Is Fighting to Maintain Her Position on the Wynn Resorts Board of Directors
Elaine Wynn is fighting to retain her spot on the Wynn Resorts Board of Directors. Elaine, who co-founded Wynn Resorts along with her ex-husband, Steve Wynn, sent a letter to shareholders this week addressing her concerns and stating her intentions.
On Monday of last week, Wynn Resorts shareholders submitted a letter which appealed to the board to eliminate some of its members, including Elaine Wynn. That caused her to send her own letter, which suggested she is launching elaineforwynn.com. That was taken as a firm indication she is going to campaign to stay on the board of directors.
Elaine’s Position with Wynn Resorts
Elaine Wynn has held her position on the board since 2002. She is seeking to be re-nominated, but a final decision on her fate will not be announced until April 24th, when the annual meeting of Wynn Resorts’s top officials takes place.
The Fight Letter
The letter Ms. Wynn sent to shareholders is being termed the “fight-letter”. She mentioned in the letter than the decision to eliminate female positions on the board of directions was “quite shocking”, given that the business world is moving towards greater diversification.
The public letter proved to be an interesting insight into Ms. Wynn’s thinking, because it anticipated the arguments which would be used against her in trying to strip her of her position. One of the supposed arguments would center on conflict of interest. Another was concerns over whether her contributions to the company’s well-being were important or not.
Wynn Divorce Settlement
When Elaine and Steve Wynn divorced in 2010, the divorce agreement allowed Ms. Wynn to retain significant stock in the family company. Her retention of those shares had certain restrictions, such as an imposition against selling company’s stock on her own. At the time, Steve Wynn said those restrictions were to protect the company from issues of majority control. Kazuo Okada, a Japanese businessman and major stakeholder of Wynn Resorts, might have gained control of the gaming company, had the deal not been in place.
Kazuo Okada’s Scandal
In 2012, Mr. Okada redeemed his stock, because he was accused of bribery schemes back in Japan (and the Philippines). At the time, Ms. Wynn felt that Mr. Okada’s leaving put her board membership in an unfavorable position. To lift those restrictions, she sued Wynn Resorts.
Ms. Wynn’s strongest defense might be that the board has been complacent in its actions since the divorce. When she was reelected to the board back in 2012, the other board members did not raise conflict of interest questions. Also, they did not regard her lawsuit as a threat to the company at the time.
About Elaine Wynn
The website Elaine Wynn launched this week stated she had 40 years in the business, was a co-founder, and remains the third-largest shareholder in the company. The website biography for her says, “During her tenure as a director at Wynn Resorts, Elaine has managed and contributed to marketing and advertising, retail vendor relationships, lifestyle brand development, event management and other programs.”
The bio adds that Ms. Wynn still owns “roughly 9.4% interest in the company”, which is valued at $13 billion. That would make Elaine Wynn a billionaire technically, though her inability to sell those shares means she would have tremendous liquidity issues if she ever sought to convert her equity in the company into cash. In effect, she can never cash out.
That is the heart of her 2012 lawsuit, and might be the source of contention at the moment. No one can say what is said inside the board room, so it would be mere speculation to say what Elaine Wynn adds to the gaming company in terms of leadership and ideas. She is a co-founder of Wynn Resorts, though Steve Wynn is seen by most as the driving force in the company’s development. Steve Wynn began the rise of his gaming fortunes when he bought a controlling interest in the Golden Nugget in the 1970s, using proceeds from his family’s bingo business and his own winemaking enterprise.
Steve and Elaine Wynn
Steve and Elaine Wynn married in 1963. They have two daughters together, Kevyn and Gillian. The Wynns divorced in 1986 at the height of Steve Wynn’s casino-building in Las Vegas, but they remarried in 1991. Their daughter together, Kevyn, was kidnapped in 1993 and the couple paid $1.4 million for her release. She was returned to her parents safely after the ransom was paid, while the kidnappers were later apprehended, after one tried to buy a Ferrari with their ill-gotten gains.
The Wynns divorced for a second time in 2010. Since then, Steve Wynn remarried, this time to Andrea Danenza Hissom, who is the mother of model and recording artist, Nick Hissom. Steve lives in a luxury suite in the Las Vegas Wynn, while Elaine Wynn lives in mansion in the Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas.