Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN:US), the casino company controlled by Chairman Stephen Wynn, sought to remove Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada from its board, the latest volley in a feud between the two former partners.
Wynn plans a special shareholder meeting to vote on Okada’s removal, the Las Vegas-based company said today in a statement. A two-thirds vote is required to remove Okada, whose shares were seized by the company this year.
The company also said it will reduce the number of board members to nine from 12 and increase the ratio of independent directors. If Okada is removed, the total will be eight.
“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,” Wynn said in the statement.
Wynn climbed 0.7 percent to $114.22 at the close in New York, before the announcement. The shares have gained 3.4 percent this year.
Okada, the 70-year-old chairman of Tokyo-based pachinko machine maker Universal Entertainment Corp. (6425), and Wynn, also 70, have been battling for more than a year. Wynn Resorts declined to invest in a Philippine casino project championed by Okada, who voted against Wynn Resorts’ $135 pledge to a Macau university foundation last year.
Wynn Resorts hired former FBI Director Louis Freeh to investigate Okada’s dealings with public officials. It seized Okada’s $1.9 billion stake in the company in February at a 30 percent discount to its market value.
Okada’s $2 billion plan to build a casino in Manila gained a partner today in billionaire John Gokongwei, whose Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) signed an agreement with Universal Entertainment.
No date was announced for the special meeting on Okada. In other changes to the board, directors Russell Goldsmith and Allan Zeman stepped down to devote time to their other businesses, according to the company. Wynn Macau Ltd. Chief Operating Officer Linda Chen and Wynn Resorts operating chief Marc Schorr also resigned to reduce the number of insiders.
The company added Jay Hagenbuch, chairman of real estate investment companies M&H Realty Partners and WestLand Capital Partners.
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