Sarah Feldberg
Sarah Feldberg

Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox made a proposal to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on April 27 that just four months ago would've been unthinkable: striking the name Wynn from the company's Boston Harbor casino project. 

But that's what Maddox offered on Friday, rechristening the $2 billion Wynn Boston Harbor the Encore Boston Harbor, thereby distancing the project from former CEO and chairman Steve Wynn.

The fallout from the sexual misconduct allegations against the Wynn Resorts founder, and the company's response, has been swift and ongoing. 

Wynn resigned in February, and over the past three months, the company has moved swiftly to settle disputes and infuse the business with capital. In March, it settled a $2.4 billion lawsuit with Universal Entertainment Corp., which enabled the former CEO to sell 12.1 million shares of Wynn Resorts stock, his entire stake in the company that includes resorts in Las Vegas and Macau. Eight million of those shares went to a pair of current shareholders, with the remaining 4.1 million selling to the public. 

Wynn Resorts also issued 5.3 million shares, a 4.9% stake in the company, to Hong Kong's Galaxy Entertainment Group in exchange for $1 billion, and resolved long-running litigation with Wynn's ex-wife, Elaine Wynn. 

It's been quite a quarter.

Maddox acknowledged as much on the company's 2018 Q1 earnings call on April 24. "It's definitely been an eventful three months since we last reported quarterly earnings," said the new CEO, striking a determined tone as he asserted the company identity and looked to the future. 

"I'd like to start the call by reminding everyone of who we are. We are the leading operator of luxury, five-star, integrated resorts, catering to the most discerning customers in the world. We are the designers and developers of buildings and amenities that are global, international tourist destinations. We are 25,000 professionals, dealers, architects, florists, housekeepers, performers, chefs, designers and thousands and thousands of others. They deliver our brand promise to over 20 million customers globally every single year. Together, we are Wynn."

Maddox went on to emphasize changes coming to Wynn Resorts, both in terms of reassessing upcoming projects and addressing the company's gender relations issues, albeit peripherally. He announced that he's steering the Las Vegas lagoon project away from a mass-market approach to focus on the resort's luxury guests, and he nodded to the addition of three women to the Wynn Board of Directors, which brings female representation to 36% of the total 11 members.

"To be clear, this is the first step in our effort to refresh the Board," said D. Boone Wayson, chairman of the Wynn Board of Directors, via release. "We intend to add additional new directors in the coming months. The Board is committed to enhancing value for our shareholders, delivering superior experiences for customers and creating a supportive and inclusive environment for all of the company's employees."

The new members, Betsy Atkins, Dee Dee Myers and Wendy Webb, all bring significant experience. Atkins is a corporate governance and technology expert, a three-time CEO and the founder of Baja Corporation, a venture capital firm focused on tech. Dee Dee Myers was the first female White House press secretary (under President Bill Clinton) and is an executive at Warner Bros. Entertainment. Her 2009 book, "Why Women Should Rule the World," was a New York Times bestseller. Wendy Webb is an experienced executive whose background includes 20 years at the Walt Disney Co., and who currently serves as CEO of Kestrel Advisors, which consults with corporations on growth and investor relations. 

In the aftermath of the sexual assault allegations, Wynn Resorts has also created a new department within the company to focus on gender equality, and has added parental leave benefits for employees. 

"As CEO, I'm not interested in looking in the rearview mirror," said Maddox. "I'm only focused on the future. And in order to focus on the future, we had to make meaningful progress over the last 60 days so that on each and every one of these calls, we are talking about our business and we are talking about our people and we are talking about our growth."

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