Wynn Resorts buyout of former investor may pave way for Steve Wynn’s exit

The $2.6B settlement opens the door for the embattled former chairman to sell off majority ownership

Steve Wynn (Credit: Getty Images)
Steve Wynn (Credit: Getty Images)

Wynn Resorts has settled a years-long dispute with a Japanese firm that at one point owned half of the casino company. The agreement also removes a barrier that could help hasten the exit of its largest shareholder and founder, Steve Wynn, who faces numerous claims of sexual harassment.

The deal is a $2.6 billion payout to Aruze USA, a subsidiary of Universal Entertainment, the Wall Street Journal reported. It comes with an agreement by Aruze to give up any claims in what amounts to a complex stockholder agreement. That pact limited the parties involved, Wynn, his ex-wife Elaine Wynn, and Aruze in how much control they held over their shares, the Journal reported.

It prevented them from selling without the permission of the other parties, so Aruze’s exit essentially loosens the legal knot tying up shares.

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The agreement was meant to allow Wynn to retain control of the company he founded. Litigation began in 2012 when Wynn forced Universal to sell its shares at a 30 percent discount after claiming its founder, Kazuo Okada, had legal issues abroad. Elaine Wynn joined the suit to remove restrictions on her 9 percent stake in the company.

Following a bombshell report of Wynn’s decades-long pattern of sexual harassment of female staff earlier this year, Wynn resigned last month as chairman and chief executive, and has given up any opposition to his ex-wife’s sale of shares.

More than 100 women came forward in late January to accuse Wynn of sexual misconduct, which followed a Journal investigation. That story detailed a $7.5 million payout to a manicurist who Wynn allegedly forced to have sex with him, uncovered in court documents related to Elaine Wynn’s pursuit to sell her shares of the company.

Neither Wynn nor Okada are party to the agreement between Wynn Resorts and Aruze, because Okada was pushed out last year over separate allegations of fraud. [WSJ] — Dennis Lynch