Embattled casino mogul Steve Wynn gives up fight for ex-wife’s stake in firm, ending six-year court battle

Move comes after mogul stepped down as chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts amid sexual harassment allegations

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 February, 2018, 11:36am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 February, 2018, 12:31pm

Scandal-hit casino supremo Steve Wynn has agreed to relinquish control of a minority stake in Wynn Resorts held by his ex-wife following sexual harassment allegations that forced him to step down as company chairman and chief executive last week.

The move by the under-fire gaming tycoon ends a long and bitter legal dispute between him and his ex-wife Elaine over her 9.4 per cent stake in the company, and came in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

Wynn, 76, has denied all the accusations against him, describing them as “preposterous”. He has been replaced as chief executive and chairman of Wynn Resorts by long-serving company executive Matthew Maddox.

Hong Kong entertainment tycoon Allan Zeman was named non-executive chairman of Wynn Macau. The Las Vegas-based company’s gaming operation in the former Portuguese enclave accounts for more than 70 per cent of its revenue.

In the filing, Wynn Resorts said it had been told Steve Wynn submitted a letter to counsel for the warring parties stating he no longer contested Elaine Wynn’s judicial admission that a 2010 agreement between the pair and company co-founder Kazuo Okada was invalid.

That agreement gave Mr Wynn control over the trio’s shares in an attempt to ward off potential takeover bids.

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“In light of the significant changed circumstances triggered by Mr Wynn’s resignation, this letter hereby constitutes formal notice that Mr Wynn no longer contests Ms Wynn’s judicial admission that the 2010 Stockholders Agreement is invalid and unenforceable,” said the letter to the exchange from Wynn Resorts as part of the filing.

“Accordingly, while Mr Wynn does not agree with Ms Wynn’s bases for claiming the 2010 Stockholders Agreement is now invalid and unenforceable, he does agree that it no longer binds either party. As such, it is Mr Wynn’s position that there is no longer a live controversy between the parties on this issue.

“Mr Wynn plans to advise the court of this development so that it may consider the same and streamline its preparation in advance of next week’s summary judgment hearings.”

The latest development will see the gaming tycoon’s control over Wynn Resorts fall to 11.8 per cent, pending judicial approval.

A six-year court battle has raged between the former couple since 2012, when Okada was ousted and his shares forcibly redeemed by Wynn Resorts amid accusations he had provided improper hospitality at Wynn properties to Philippine gaming officials to the tune of US$110,000.

At the time, Wynn Resorts claimed Okada had put the company’s gaming licence in jeopardy.

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Ms Wynn subsequently initiated her own proceedings against her ex-husband to reclaim her 9.4 per cent stake, claiming Okada’s dismissal rendered their 2010 agreement invalid.

The related dispute between Wynn Resorts and Okada over his redeemed shares is still expected to go to trial in April.

In its filing, Wynn Resorts added that Mr Wynn had informed the company he had no immediate plans to sell shares he owned and that “if he elects to sell any such shares over time, he will seek to conduct such sales in an orderly fashion”.