Wynn Resorts Adds Three Women to Its Board of Directors
Wynn Resorts added three woman to its board of directors this week, in what the Las Vegas casino company said was a “first step” to refresh and diversify its board. The move could have implications on a variety of fronts.
While Wynn doubtlessly chose additions to help the company on a public relations basis, the new independent directors bring a broad range of insight and savvy on financial, governmental, regulatory, and business matters to the board.
It is a bold move. The $18 billion company added Betsy Atkins, Dee Dee Myers, and Wendy Webb as independent directors, in a move which brings the board’s number to 11. Atkins, Myers, and Webb were added amid sexual misconduct allegations against former company CEO Steve Wynn.
In a press release, Wynn’s board said, “The Wynn Resorts board now comprises 36% women, bringing Wynn into the top 40 S&P 500 companies in terms of female board representation.”
The moves signal the board’s decision to play a long game. Because Wynn CEO Matt Maddox had not refreshed Wynn’s board previously, it fueled speculation that Maddox planned to sell the company to a competitor. The addition of three new board members would seem to make a buyout less likely.
Wynn Resorts Sued by Shareholders
Still, Wynn Resorts needed to take some kind of action that it took the scandal seriously. Shareholders are suing Wynn Resorts, because they say the board kept secrets allegations made years ago about Steve Wynn. Their lawyers argue that the lack of information skewed shareholders’ evaluation of Wynn Resorts stock and cost them hundreds of millions, if not billions, in investment capital.
The regulators for Nevada, Massachusetts, and Macau all have investigations into Steve Wynn’s wrongdoing and any potential coverup by the board of directors. Media coverage has been negative and virtually nonstop, so Wynn’s board has been embattled.
Steve Wynn Lawsuits
Steve Wynn has denied all allegations and called them “preposterous”, but in a Wall Street Journal article in January, multiple women who worked in the casino’s salon accused the Wynn Resorts founder of harassment. The WSJ article led to a firestorm of controversy, as the Associated Press, Las Vegas Review-Journal, and other publications published allegations.
Steve Wynn also recently began suing various groups for defamation, including the Associated Press, an AP reporter, one of Wynn’s accusers, and a local law firm. While court documents from Wynn’s suit support the idea that his one accuser might have made false claims, those lawsuits will only keep the story in the news for months — if not years.
Wynn’s New Directors – Wendy Webb Bio
The three people added to the Wynn board of directors this week are impressive. Wendy Webb has 20 years as a senior executive at The Walt Disney Company, so she has worked at a company with 5 times the assets of Wynn Resorts.
Betsy Atkins Profile
Betsy Atkins is an expert in corporate governance. She was an early investor in Yahoo! and eBay. Atkins has served on the board of directors for Cognizant, Schneider Electric, SL Green Realty Corp, HD Supply, and Volvo. Betsy Atkins also has served on the NASDAQ board of directors and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
To those familiar with US politics, Dee Dee Myers’ name might be the most recognizable of the three. Dee Dee Myers served as the first-ever female White House press secretary during the Clinton Administration. Later, Dee Dee Myers served as a consultant on The West Wing tv show and was the inspiration for the show’s character C.J. Gregg.
Dee Dee Myers Bio
Myers co-hosted the CNBC news program Equal Time and in 2010 became a managing director at The Glover Park Group – a Washington-based communications consulting firm. In 2008, she published the New York Times Best Seller “Why Women Should Rule the World”.
Wynn Plans to Add More New Directors
Wynn Chairman D. Boone Wayson said the move was a precursor to further executive decisions. Wayson said, “To be clear, this is the first step in our effort to refresh the board. We intend to add additional new directors in the coming months.”
It is a clear sign that D. Boone Wayson and Matt Maddox plan to maintain the current leadership at Wynn Resorts and avoid a buyout by another company. Maddox and Wayson still might sell the $2.4 billion Wynn Boston Harbor to an outside group, but such a sell might be a means of shoring up the company’s finances, while eliminating one regulatory headache.