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Barron’s drops Steve Wynn from top CEO list

Las Vegas casino developer Steve Wynn isn’t wanted in the Philippines or Singapore.

Now it seems the CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd. is no longer considered one of the world’s top chief executives.

Barron’s, the international business publication, has dropped Wynn from its annual list of the world’s top 30 corporate chieftains, citing his business dispute with former business partner Kazuo Okada. Wynn Resorts said it plans a yet-to-be-scheduled special board meeting to remove Okada as a director.

Okada, 69, has already been removed from the boards of Wynn Resorts subsidiaries Wynn Macau Ltd. and Las Vegas Capital Corp. The company accused Okada of paying $110,000 in cash and gifts to Philippine gaming regulators.

Wynn Resorts contends that Okada, who owns the Tokyo-based gaming company Universal Entertainment Corp., violated U.S. anti-corruption laws and company policy, making himself unsuitable to own Wynn stock.

“While Wynn Resorts’ Steve Wynn has been a huge winner for investors over the past few decades, we dropped him after he had an acrimonious business dispute with a Japanese partner,” the weekly business newspaper said in its March 24 edition.

Wynn Resorts in February redeemed Okada’s shares at a 30 percent discount. The deal would issue a 10-year note to pay Okada $1.9 billion, an $800 million discount.

Wynn joins a list of 12 CEOs that were dropped from the 2012 Barron’s list. Among them were the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, Reed Hastings of Netflix, IBM Corp.’s Sam Palmisano and Jim Sinegal of Costco Wholesale Corp.

Jobs died in October at age 56. Palmisano and Sinegal retired last year, but both were credited with turning around their companies before stepping down. Hastings lost his position due to Netflix “having a hard time turning rapid expansion into significant profits.”

A Wynn Resorts spokesman declined to comment Monday.

In recent months lawmakers in the Philippines have debated a resolution declaring Wynn unsuitable to do business there in light of his comments about Okada’s business dealings and corruption there. In 2005 his remarks about “unsophisticated” officials in Singapore caused a backlash that prompted him to withdraw his bid for a gaming license.

Barron’s said the selection process wasn’t based on any formula and reflects the views of the newspaper’s staff.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at
csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

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