Wynn Resorts has written to its shareholders urging them to re-elect director John J. Hagenbuch, following efforts from Elaine Wynn, the company’s co-founder and largest shareholder, to oust the individual.

Elaine Wynn is seeking votes be withheld at the firm’s annual meeting in Las Vegas on Wednesday May 16, stating more directors need to be removed to create a “new Wynn,” as the company moves on from the sexual assault allegations levelled at former CEO Steve Wynn.

Defending progress made since the story broke in late January, it’s letter to Wynn Resorts shareholders states: “We are a very different company than we were three months ago, and we have a refreshed, diverse Board in place that is committed to active oversight in leading the company forward. “

Before going on to defend its position with Hagenbuch, and the work he has carrier out, as it concluded its lengthy address: “Withholding your vote for Jay Hagenbuch will not benefit your investment.  A Director for 5½ years, Jay brings to our board deep corporate strategy and financial expertise gained over 30 years as a private equity investor and as a director of public and private companies.  

“In a complex and heavily regulated industry, Jay has the experience to effectively identify and manage Wynn’s risk exposures and attendant vulnerabilities. As chairman of the Audit Committee, he is intimately familiar with Wynn’s operations, strengths and weaknesses, and its specialised regulatory framework.  

“He has also met with and made comprehensive presentations to the Nevada and Massachusetts gaming regulators about the purpose and work of the Special Committee and the backgrounds and independence of its three members.

“Jay’s important contributions to the Board have also included:

  • Developing a comprehensive independent analysis of capital expenditures that resulted in adoption of an appropriately scaled-down set of development plans in Las Vegas in 2017.
  • Arguing for the need to develop a coherent regular dividend policy, rather than reliance on special dividends, which the Company adopted in 2015.
  • Since joining the board in 2013, successfully advocating for an enhanced balance-sheet management protocol to ensure financial constraints never unduly impact operating decisions.

“Given Jay’s key Board role and deep institutional knowledge, withholding your vote for him would only serve to undercut the progress Wynn is making.  Adding new, diverse and independent voices to the Board is clearly important, and our process for doing so is not yet complete.

“However, we believe it is important to undertake this change in an orderly way that will enable Wynn to continue to deliver strong financial performance.  It is also vital to retain a director of Jay’s caliber who has a deep understanding of Wynn’s business as well as its unique regulatory framework in both the U.S. and Macau.

“Your Board and management team are continuing to drive growth at Wynn, move past the founder-led era of Steve Wynn, and evolve into a stronger company that is poised for long-term growth.  Don’t risk derailing the progress we have made. Please support us in our efforts to remake Wynn for the future.”