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Ex-Power Couple Fight Could Impact Wynn Resorts

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Pictures from Associated Press/image by Natalie Cullen

It’s an ongoing saga between what once was Las Vegas’ ultimate power couple – Steve and Elaine Wynn. 

They divorced years ago. But last year, the board of Wynn Resorts removed her from its board. She owns nearly 10 percent of the company’s stock worth some $900 million, but under an agreement they made in their divorce Steve Wynn controls the voting for those shares. 

And this week, Elaine Wynn sued him to get control of that stake in the company. She accused her ex-husband of breaching a 2010 stockholder agreement by trying to get her out off the board. 

In her complaint, Elaine Wynn accused her former husband of engaging in “reckless and risk taking behavior” that could harm the company. 

This came out in a Wall Street Journal article by Alexandra Berzon, which aptly uses the title “War of the Roses”

Berzon said the tone Elaine Wynn took in her latest battle with Steve Wynn is different than what she has said in the past.

“She has gone into a much more of an angrier mode," she explained, "In a mode of trying to reveal things about the company about his governance also making a point about how the company is run, which is potentially more harmful to Steve Wynn and the company.”

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Berzon said Elaine Wynn has accused Steve Wynn of withholding information from the board and using "the company to fund his lavish lifestyle."

The questions Elaine Wynn is raising could have a real impact on how investors see Steve Wynn, Berzon said.

“It is not a juicy spat between former lovers," she said, "It is a business story that could have real consequences for the company.”

Berzon believes Steve Wynn could face a bigger image problem, if Elaine Wynn wins the lawsuit. If she gains control of her shares and is able to sell them, Steve Wynn would have less control of his company, which she said is what happened at the Mirage. 

“If Steve Wynn were to lose more of his voting control of the company and it could start to seem, or at least have the appearance of feeling a little less stable, and that’s where employees or investors might become more aware of it,” she said. 

 

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Alexandra Berzon, writer, Wall Street Journal

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