Grant Bowie to Retire as MGM China CEO, Company Faces Challenges

Posted on: May 11, 2020, 10:19h. 

Last updated on: May 12, 2020, 09:14h.

MGM China CEO Grant Bowie is stepping down at the end of this month from his top post. That is the latest management change involving MGM Resorts International globally, as the company sets itself up to handle the financial pressures associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

Grant Bowie Retiring
Grant Bowie is retiring this month as CEO of MGM China. (Image: Bloomberg/Jerome Favre)

Bowie will reportedly stay on as an executive director and a company advisor. It is not clear how long he will be executive director, but may remain in an advisory role through 2022.

The move related to Bowie’s personal retirement plans and he opted not to extend a contract with the company. The news was included in a recent company filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Inside Asian Gaming reported.

Financial Challenges Continue for MGM

When asked for comments on the management change, the Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College who follows the gambling industry, told that “MGM is certainly experiencing a very difficult financial situation.

Its US casinos are closed and unlikely to be very profitable when they first open again,” McGowan explained. “So, the management of its Asian properties will become vitally important.”

MGM likely needs a different strategy for its Asian properties, McGowan said. The new company CEO in China will need “to discover what MGM can do to ensure that the Asian operations are profitable.”

The question also arises if MGM might need a different post-COVID-19 model in Asia, he added. Like with Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts, MGM’s China operations will have to help carry the company through current challenges, McGowan confirmed.

In fact, US casinos will “undergo a substantial change in operations that will take some time for both the casinos and … customers to become accustom [to],” he said.

Bowie Is Asian Gaming Industry Veteran

Bowie led the opening of the Wynn Macau in 2006. Two years later, he went to MGM after MGM Macau opened, and he led the development of the $3.4 billion MGM Cotai which opened in 2018.

Earlier in his career, he worked for Park Place Entertainment Corporation in Australia. The departure from MGM appears to be on friendly terms and Bowie thanked his corporate colleagues.

Mr. Bowie has confirmed that he has no disagreement with the board and there are no other matters in relation to his retirement … which need to be brought to the attention of the shareholders of the company,” the filing said, according to GGRAsia.

Last month, it was reported that MGM China has the financial resources to survive up to 15 months if financial pressures, lower occupancy rates, and reduced gaming continue. It is unlikely MGM Resorts International would try to sell MGM China to shore up its own balance sheet, analysts from Bernstein, a financial firm, said.

Las Vegas-based MGM owns nearly 56 percent of the China unit. Earlier this month, MGM Resorts consolidated its top management.

News about the reshuffling came on the heels of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announcing that the state’s casinos will not be among the first businesses to reopen. Earlier this year, Jim Murren stepped down as CEO and chairman of MGM Resorts.