Wynn Resorts Ltd. NASDAQ:WYNN Downgraded to Hold
Casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd. NASDAQ:WYNN is seeking to remove Kazuo Okada, a former business partner and friend of CEO Steven Wynn, from its board due a continuing dispute.
Mr. Okada was ousted as a major shareholder in the casino giant last year, as the casino operator accused him with out evidence of engaging in improper practices while developing a casino in the Philippines. Mr. Okada has denied the allegations, and has called for the reinstatement of his shares in a protracted legal dispute.
Mr. Okada could not immediately be reached to comment.
In Asia it is widely held that Kazuo Okada outlived his usefulness to Wynn and is being thrown to the wolves.
There has been no criminal action brought against Kazuo Okada and he is continuing to develop a business in the Philippines.
Mr. Wynn also said that it is streamlining its board to 9 members, including 6 independent directors, from its former 12-member board, which included 7 independent directors.
The casino giant said it is calling a special shareholder meeting to vote on a proposal to remove Mr. Okada as a director. If Mr. Okada is removed by a 66% vote, the board will be reduced further to 8 members.
In terms of the numbers, this is not a great time for WYNN to be embarking on a major court battle, valuation is high, profits are falling and without Kazuo Okada we feel that the WYNN business in Macau and Asia is now at risk.
Kazuo Okada was the lead in the development and success of Asia for WYNN, replacing him will not be easy.
We have cut WYNN from a buy to a hold.
Mr. Wynn said Thursday that independent directors Russell Goldsmith and Allan Zeman have left the board to spend time on other business commitments, while Mr. Wynn executives Linda Chen and Marc D. Schorr have stepped down from the board to reduce the number of inside directors.
Ms. Chen and Mr. Schorr will remain as executives at the company, and they and Mr. Zeman will still have a place on the board of Wynn Macau, Ltd., where Mr. Zeman is vice chairman.
“By streamlining the Board and eliminating an unsuitable director, the company will be well positioned to capitalize on the enormous opportunities in the market and execute our ambitious expansion plans,” said Mr. Wynn. He added that the company is seeking regulatory approval to open new facilities in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, a move he said “would not be possible with an unsuitable director and which will benefit from a streamlined board with greater independent representation.”
Wynn reported in October that its Q-3 profit fell 12% on slipping revenue in Macau.
Heffernan Capital Management
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Shayne Heffernan Ph.D.
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Shayne Heffernan oversees the management of funds for institutions and high net worth individuals. He is also an active consultant working with Corporations around the World.
He is recognized as one of the leading Economists in South East Asia, as well as the preeminent authority on ASEAN. His opinions and forecasts are widely read by decision makers in the region and Internationally.
Shayne Heffernan holds a Ph.D. in Economics and brings with him over 25 years of trading experience in Asia and hands on experience in Venture Capital, he has been involved in several start ups that have seen market capitalization over $500m and 1 that reached a peak of $15b. He has managed and overseen start ups in Mining, Shipping, Technology and Financial Services.
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