Last week, a regulatory filing revealed that Steve Wynn, the former CEO of Wynn Resorts, has been cleared to sell all or a portion of his stake in the company he founded. Wynn is the largest shareholder of the company. He owns nearly 12% of Wynn Resorts, which is worth an estimated $2.5 billion. His ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, is the second-largest shareholder with a 9.3% stake.
Wynn was forced to resign from Wynn Resorts last month after a number of allegations of sexual harassment and assault surfaced against him. The company's stock was sent on a downward spiral when news of the allegations broke. Nevada state gaming regulators have opened an investigation into the accusations of sexual misconduct made against the casino mogul by a number of former and current employees. Wynn has denied all accusations despite the revelation of a $7.5 million settlement with a woman. He has suggested this is all a campaign by his ex-wife to discredit him. There is no evidence that that is the case.
Wynn and his ex-wife formerly had an agreement wherein he could not sell more than one-third of the stakes he has in the company. Reports now say that he and his ex-wife agreed to dissolve that arrangement leaving him free to sell all of his shares if he wishes.
Wynn Resorts released a statement that Wynn is now free to sell all or a portion of his 12 million shares. Prior to the sexual misconduct allegations against him, shares were trading above $200. They dropped sharply after the allegations were made public but have since recovered a bit and as of this writing are trading at $181.62.
Wynn transformed the Las Vegas casinos from mere gambling locations into high end entertainment destination and brought the high end foodie scene to the Las Vegas Strip. The Mirage is Wynn's first major casino and resort. It opened in 1989 followed by Treasure Island in 1993, and the Bellagio in 1998.
In 1999, Wynn sold his company, Mirage Resorts to MGM Grand owner Kirk Kerkorian, who had launched a bid to take over the company. Wynn's corporation was the then biggest buyout of a hotel-casino operation in history. Mirage Resorts sold for $6.7 billion. Wynn made about $500 million from the sale. He then used part of that money to buy the aging but classic Desert Inn on the Strip. Wynn closed and imploded the Desert Inn to build Wynn Las Vegas. This megaresort which opened in 2005, cost $2.7 billion to build and features 2,716 hotel rooms, and the only golf course remaining on the Strip.
The Wynn Macau opened in 2006. The year 2008 saw one of the worst recessions in the U.S. in decades and Las Vegas was feeling the pinch. So, what did Wynn do? He opened another splashy, elegant resort to the tune of $2.3 billion. The Encore, a companion piece to Wynn, features 2,034 rooms that are all suites. Encore Macau opened in 2010.
Wynn faces a world of trouble for the sexual misconduct allegations. In addition to being ousted from his own company and granted the rights to sell all of his shares, a group of shareholders in Wynn Resorts have filed lawsuits accusing Wynn and the board of directors for breaching their fiduciary duties by ignoring the long history of sexual harassment and abuse by the company's founder.