Okada drops effort to nominate Wynn Resorts board members
Billionaire Wynn Resorts Ltd. board member Kazuo Okada is dropping his effort to nominate two independent directors to the company’s board but is continuing to fight Wynn’s forced redemption at a discount of his $2.9 billion in company stock.
Okada attorneys today told Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez they’re appealing her Oct. 2 ruling denying his request that his shares be restored so he can vote them during the company’s annual meeting Nov. 2. The shares amounted to nearly a 20 percent stake in Wynn Resorts, a big casino resort operator with properties in Las Vegas and Macau.
Okada and his companies also said in a statement that Okada is abandoning his effort to have two independent directors elected, because of time constraints. Okada, who made a fortune manufacturing Japanese pachinko gaming devices, has claimed independent directors are needed to curb the influence of fellow billionaire CEO Steve Wynn on the board.
“Given the district court’s Oct. 2 ruling, we recognize that any relief that may come from the Nevada Supreme Court will not be in time for our independent director nominees to be presented for election at the Nov. 2 shareholder meeting,” Okada’s company Aruze USA said in a statement. “We remain confident we will ultimately prevail in our action against Wynn Resorts Ltd., its CEO and its directors to reverse the unlawful redemption of our holdings in Wynn Resorts Ltd.”
Since the first of the year, Okada has been mired in litigation with Wynn Resorts, led by Steve Wynn, over what Okada calls Wynn Resorts’ questionable pledge to donate $135 million to the University of Macau, where the company has a lucrative gaming license.
Steve Wynn and the directors allied with him, in the meantime, removed Okada as a shareholder after determining he had breached his duties as a director and put the company’s gaming licenses in jeopardy by providing improper benefits to gaming regulators in the Philippines, where Okada is developing a gaming resort. The company converted his shares into a $1.936 billion note.
The legal battle has led to another series of lawsuits filed by disgruntled shareholders, as well as an inquiry by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.