Estate of MGM Resorts Founder Kirk Kerkorian Sells Remaining Stake in Casino Giant

Posted on: September 16, 2019, 03:30h. 

Last updated on: September 16, 2019, 12:43h.

MGM Resorts no longer has any financial ties to its founder, Kirk Kerkorian, after the late billionaire’s estate divested its remaining shares in the casino operator.

MGM Resorts Kirk Kerkorian
Las Vegas went dark when one of its icons – MGM Resorts founder Kirk Kerkorian – died in 2015. (Image: Ethan Miller/Getty)

MGM announced Monday that Tracinda Corp – Kerkorian’s holding company that serves as his trust for his two daughters – has sold its remaining 27.2 million shares in the casino operator. The sell-off represents 4.8 percent of the company.

Kerkorian died on June 15, 2015, and his will mandated that his position in the casino company be sold in a divestiture manner. At the time of his death, Tracinda was MGM’s largest shareholder with a 16.2 percent stake.

This is the end of an era and illustrates what made Mr. Kerkorian one of the most visionary, selfless and compassionate leaders of his time,” MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said in a release.

“In an industry with a history of flash and big egos, Mr. Kerkorian’s example of leading with vision, humility and compassion is truly inspiring, and serves as a driving force behind everything we do. His legacy will continue to live on at MGM Resorts,” Murren concluded.

Since Kerkorian’s death, MGM shares have gained considerable value – up 53 percent from $19.43 to $29.75. That’s nearly on par with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has jumped 55 percent during the same period.

Las Vegas Visionary

Kirk Kerkorian will be remembered as one of the most important pioneers in the history of Las Vegas.

After acquiring a 40 percent stake in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1969, Kerkorian took the iconic Hollywood film studio brand to Las Vegas to create what would become MGM Grand Inc, MGM Mirage, and finally, MGM Resorts.

The billionaire is often credited with creating the “mega-resort” concept in Sin City. Kerkorian thrice built the world’s largest hotel: first with the International (now Westgate), then MGM Grand Hotel (now Bally’s Las Vegas), and capping the list with MGM Grand.

In 2008, Kerkorian was ranked the world’s 41st richest person, with Forbes estimating his net worth at $16 billion. The subsequent stock market crash tumbled his total worth to around $4 billion at the time of his 2015 death.

Longtime Philanthropist

Along with building Las Vegas, Kerkorian is remembered for his philanthropy, as his gifts surpassed $1 billion during his lifetime. Before his death, he set aside $100 million to produce a Hollywood film highlighting the horrific events that took place in his parents’ native Armenia between 1915 and 1923.

During that time, some 1.5 million Armenian people died. The Republic of Turkey, however, continues to deny a genocide ever occurred.

“The Promise,” a 2016 American historical drama directed by Oscar nominee Terry George and starring Academy Award-winner Christian Bale, focused on a fictitious love triangle that takes place immediately before the Armenian genocide. Kerkorian’s estate fully funded the picture. 

Despite the film’s large budget, the movie raked in only $12.4 million at the box office and was largely panned by critics. Kerkorian didn’t expect the movie to turn a profit, but earmarked the money to bring awareness to the genocide.

Former US President Ronald Reagan is the only American president who has publicly referred to the eight-year confrontation as a “genocide.”