The Chicago Syndicate: The Battle between Steve and Elaine Wynn Over the Wynn Resorts Casino Empire Escalates
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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Battle between Steve and Elaine Wynn Over the Wynn Resorts Casino Empire Escalates

The former wife of Wynn Resorts Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn has filed a counterclaim in a lawsuit filed in Clark County District Court that is putting her ouster from the Wynn board a year ago back in the public spotlight.

Elaine Wynn, a co-founder of the company and its third-largest shareholder, sought to regain control of her company stock, which has been restricted by an agreement reached in 2010 that she now says her ex-husband breached.

The claim was filed Monday as part of Wynn Resorts’ lawsuit against former partner Kazuo Okada and his company, Aruze USA Inc., and Okada’s countersuit against Wynn.

Steve Wynn disputed Elaine Wynn’s claims Monday in statements issued through the company and a personal spokesperson.

Elaine Wynn said her ex-husband orchestrated her ouster from the Wynn board of directors in retaliation for asking questions about the “tone at the top,” the absence of internal controls, the withholding of information from the board and the “reckless activity of the CEO and others in the company.”

Elaine Wynn said as a result of her removal from the board, she no longer has a meaningful avenue to protect her economic interest in the company and because Steve Wynn and the board have failed to address the matter, she said she had no choice but to proceed with legal action.

She is seeking a judicial determination that the January 2010 stockholders’ agreement which prohibits her from transferring stock that she owns without Steve Wynn’s permission and gives him all rights to vote her stock, is invalid and unenforceable.

Steve Wynn responded to the allegations in statements from the company and from a personal spokesperson.

The company said that Elaine Wynn’s counterclaim “simply not true and are rehashed from her previous, unfounded statements made during her proxy campaign” in which she lost election to the Wynn board in collecting 7 percent of the votes cast.

Elaine Wynn conducted a dissident campaign last year that ended in shareholders re-electing two board-recommended candidates, John Hagenbuch and J. Edward Virtue, to the board at the company’s annual meeting on April 24. At the time, Elaine Wynn said while disappointed in the vote outcome, she felt she stood for being “an agent for change and improvement for this company which I love so deeply.”

Steve Wynn responded to the allegations in statements from the company and from a personal spokesperson.

Through a personal spokesperson, Steve Wynn called Elaine Wynn “a disappointed ex-wife who is seeking to tarnish the reputation of Wynn Resorts and Steve Wynn and their daughters.”

“This lawsuit is filled with lies and distortions and is an embarrassment to Ms. Wynn and her counsel,” the statement said. “This is simply an attempt to inflict personal pain on Mr. Wynn.”

Steve Wynn said his ex-wife never raised the issues stated in the court claim in her 13 years on the board of directors and that she agreed to the terms of the 2010 stockholders’ agreement when it was drafted and at the time of the couple’s divorce.

“What particularly saddens Mr. Wynn among the many falsehoods is the assertion that Mr. Wynn’s estate planning does not provide for his daughters and grandchildren,” the statement said. “This is untrue in every sense of the word and is a shocking allegation for a mother to make concerning family.

“This is an action unbecoming of a long-time director, significant shareholder and mother.”

Steve Wynn, 74, developer of The Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio in addition to the Wynn properties, is worth $2.7 billion, while Elaine Wynn, 73, is worth $1.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

Court papers show the Wynns married in 1963, divorced in 1986, remarried in 1991, and divorced again in 2010.

Elaine Wynn controls 9.4 percent of Wynn Resorts’ stock, while Steve Wynn controls 11.8 percent, Reuters data show.

The company’s stock was largely unaffected Monday, closing down 0.68 percent or 64 cents to $92.83 on average trading.

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