Elaine Wynn Booted from Wynn Resorts Board

Posted on: April 27, 2015, 12:18h. 

Last updated on: April 27, 2015, 12:18h.

Elaine Wynn Resorts director vote
Elaine Wynn failed to reclaim a seat on Wynn Resorts’ board of directors. (Image: Invision/Associated Press)

Elaine Wynn was one of the founding members of Wynn Resorts, helping ex-husband Steve Wynn build the company into one of the most powerful firms in the gambling industry.

However, she will no longer be a part of the board of directors for the company, as she could not find enough support from shareholders to get reelected as a director.

The vote, which came last Friday, may or may not have been a close one: while the company confirmed that board nominees John Hangenbuch and Edward Virtue were re-elected, and Wynn was not, there was no word on the exact vote counts.

The vote came after the company made a move in early March to reduce the size of their board from three directors to two, removing Elaine Wynn from her seat in the process.

Wynn Campaigned on Ability to Communicate with Former Husband

That left her with the toughest road to gaining one of the two seats in Friday’s election. Wynn appealed to shareholders, saying that she was the most experienced and qualified candidate for the board, as well as the only one that could speak confidently and truthfully to Steve Wynn about the company’s future.

Elaine and Steve Wynn divorced in 2010, a split that was at the time amicable.

Elaine Wynn also argued that her inclusion on the board would be a necessary step towards improving the diversity of the directors, who would otherwise be comprised entirely of white men.

Many corporations, including many of Wynn’s competitors, have been making a concerted effort to improve the diversity in their leadership.

“The final week of this campaign is now upon us and within a few short days, we will know if I have the good fortune of continuing to serve you as a member of the Wynn Resorts board of directors,” Wynn wrote in a letter to shareholders in the days before the vote. 

Directors Argued Elaine Wynn Didn’t Have Company’s Best Interests in Mind

The relationship between Elaine Wynn and Wynn Resorts has deteriorated in recent years. When the Wynns divorced in 2010, they agreed to split their stake in the company equally, and for Steve Wynn to perpetually support Elaine’s position on the board.

In 2012, however, Elaine sued Steve in an effort to break the agreement and allow her to sell her shares in any way she desired. Under the agreement, Elaine is not allowed to sell more than $10 million in stock each year.

That incident led many at Wynn Resorts to suggest that Elaine’s interests weren’t aligned with those of the company, which was used against her in the campaign. The company also promised to name at least one diverse board member before the end of the year.

Wynn certainly had a chance to win reelection: because she and Steve Wynn are required to vote the same way under the terms of that agreement, she was guaranteed to start with over 19 percent of the vote.

There was also division among the three proxy firms that advised shareholders how to vote in the election: one supported the two director nominees, one wanted shareholders to back Wynn, while the third advised waiting for better candidates.

In the end, the votes simply weren’t there for Wynn to take back a seat on the board. However, she does remain the third-largest shareholder in the company, giving her a significant amount of influence in the firm’s affairs.

“While I am certainly disappointed by the result of today’s vote, I am hopeful that I have once again served as an agent for change and improvement for this company, which I love so deeply,” Wynn said in an email after the results came in.