Exclusive: Wynn aims to kick Okada off Macau board Friday
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Casino mogul Steve Wynn will convene an emergency meeting of the directors of Wynn Macau on Friday with the goal of kicking his former friend and partner Kazuo Okada off the board, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The growing battle between Wynn Resorts CEO Wynn and co-founder Okada is set to escalate another notch, after both billionaires traded accusations in past weeks about improper payments to foreign gambling regulators.
The nine-person Macau board - which includes five members with ties to Wynn - can take unilateral action to drop Okada from among their ranks, according to the two people with knowledge of the impending meeting.
The Macau unit can take action on its own, both sources said. But parent company Wynn Resorts cannot remove Okada from its 12-person board without first convening a special shareholders' meeting, said one of the two people.
Wynn spokesman Paul Kranhold had no comment on the Macau meeting. James Golden, a spokesman for Okada's Universal Entertainment Corp, said he had no information on the meeting and could not comment.
Wynn Resorts on Sunday announced it had forcibly re-purchased Okada's nearly 20 percent stake in the company, saying an internal investigation headed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh uncovered dozens of instances over a three-year period in which Okada and associates "engaged in improper activities for their own benefit in apparent violation of U.S. anti-corruption laws."
Okada responded by accusing Freeh of "a rushed investigation that lacks absolute findings," and has since threatened to file suit in Las Vegas for a temporary restraining order to block the company's action.
Okada, an engineer by training, helped bankroll Steve Wynn's empire, today worth an estimated $14 billion. His dispute with Wynn erupted into the open in January when Okada filed suit against his partner of 12 years for blocking access to financial documents related to a $135 million company donation to the University of Macau.