Elaine Wynn Buries Hatchet with Wynn Resorts as Phil Sartre Becomes Vice-Chairman

Posted on: August 7, 2018, 06:15h. 

Last updated on: August 7, 2018, 06:16h.

Gaming industry veteran Phil Sartre has been appointed vice-chairman of Wynn Resorts in a move that should ease tensions between the company and its biggest shareholder and co-founder, Elaine Wynn.

Phil Satre
Phil Satre is the former CEO of Harrahs and a Gaming Hall of Fame inductee. Along with his impeccable credentials, the Wynn Resorts board hopes that his appointment will stop Elaine Wynn giving them all such a hard time. (Image: David Parker/Reno Gazette-Journal)

Satre, who is the former CEO of Harrahs, now Caesars, is expected to be elected chairman before the end of the year. He will replace D. Boone Wayson who will step down as chairman but will remain a board member.

The appointment is a victory for Wynn who has clashed repeatedly with the board since she became the company’s largest shareholder after disgraced ex-husband Steve Wynn sold his equity earlier this year.

Wynn tried to get Satre appointed to the board last month but was rebuffed. Since her ex-husband’s departure, she has demanded sweeping changes to corporate governance and to the “entrenched” board at Wynn Resorts. Her campaigning led to the resignation in May of Jay Hagenbuch, whom she described as Wynn crony.

Elaine’s Part of the Bargain

But with victory come concessions. Wynn Resorts said in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission this week that Wynn had agreed to enter into a “standstill period” until 2020.

During this time, Wynn will agree to keep her ownership of the company down to its current 9.9 percent. She will not nominate anyone to the board, nor attempt to influence board members, nor enter into a “proxy fight.” She has also agreed use her shares to vote in line with the board’s recommendations.

The agreement also bars Wynn from engaging in any activity that could lead to a takeover or merger push against Wynn Resorts.

New Chapter

In an official statement, Wayson said the appointment was “the result of a collaborative effort” which was the beginning of a “constructive and unified effort by all parties to move the company forward.”

“The addition of someone of Phil’s caliber and experience is a significant step forward for Wynn Resorts as we turn the page on the last six months,” Wayson said in a statement.

Our goal is to give the management team, led by CEO Matt Maddox, an opportunity to grow and develop this company to its greatest potential. Phil’s insight and guidance will be invaluable as we move forward.”

Satre will leave his post as chairman of IGT to take up the new position but will remain on the board of Nordstrom, Inc. He has previously served on the boards of Tabcorp Holdings Ltd and Rite Aid Corporation, and is a previous chairman of NV Energy. He is president of the National Center for Responsible Gaming and an inductee of the Gaming Hall of Fame.