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MGM Resorts' departing CEO will get S$32m exit package

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MGM Resorts International, which abruptly announced this week that chief executive officer Jim Murren is stepping down, will pay him an exit package worth about US$32 million over the next two years.

[LOS ANGELES] MGM Resorts International, which abruptly announced this week that chief executive officer Jim Murren is stepping down, will pay him an exit package worth about US$32 million over the next two years.

Mr Murren, who ran the Las Vegas-based casino operator since 2008, is set to receive his US$2 million annual salary plus US$11 million in bonuses for staying with the firm through the end of the year, according to a regulatory filing Friday.

Starting in January, he'll receive US$575,000 per month for a year in exchange for consulting services to the company. That comes on top of a US$12 million severance payment. In announcing his departure on Wednesday, MGM said it was forming a special board committee to find a successor. Mr Murren will stay at the helm until that replacement is named.

Mr Murren, a protege of late MGM founder Kirk Kerkorian, helped build the company into the largest owner of casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. He also weathered storms in his career --including the US$9.2 billion opening of the CityCenter resort in the teeth of an economic downturn that sent the company scrambling for cash. Another crisis came in 2017, when a shooter staying at its Mandalay Bay hotel left 58 dead.

Under pressure from activist investors looking to boost the company's stock price, Mr Murren had been selling MGM's casinos to third parties under a strategy he called "asset-light." The strategy was pressed further by Keith Meister, a shareholder who joined the board last year.

The company has divested marquee properties, such as the Bellagio and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. MGM will continue to manage those resorts for the owners: Blackstone Group and MGM Growth Properties, an affiliated real estate investment trust.

Murren has said the company will deploy US$8.2 billion of proceeds from recent sales into emerging businesses, such as sports betting and a new casino resort that MGM is vying for in Japan.

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