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Wynn Resorts adds three women to board in post-scandal shake-up

[LOS ANGELES] Wynn Resorts Ltd, the casino operator coping with a sexual-harassment scandal tied to its former chief executive officer, named three new board members - all of them women.

Dee Dee Myers, President Bill Clinton's former spokeswoman; Betsy Atkins, a corporate-governance advocate; and Wendy Webb, former investor-relations chief at Walt Disney Co, were appointed to the Wynn Resorts board, according to a company filing Tuesday. The move enlarges and diversifies the board at a company that earned the lowest possible score in corporate governance last year from the advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services Inc.

Ms Myers currently serves as head of communications for film and TV studio Warner Bros. Ms Atkins, author of "Behind Boardroom Doors: Lessons of a Corporate Director," previously ran the company that made PowerBar snacks, while Ms Webb runs the consulting firm Kestrel Advisors.

Company founder Steve Wynn stepped down in February after a series of articles detailed his alleged harassment of female employees. Wynn has since sold all his shares in the business, which operates luxury resorts in Las Vegas and Macau and is building another near Boston. Still, regulators continue to probe the former executive's behavior and the company's response, potentially jeopardizing Wynn Resorts' casino licenses in those jurisdictions.

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On Tuesday, ex-wife Elaine Wynn, now the company's largest individual shareholder, said she wanted to see new board appointees and would like to nominate them herself.

The company's new CEO, Matt Maddox, indicated last week that he would be willing to sell the US$2.5 billion resort under construction in Everett, Massachusetts, something Elaine Wynn said should not happen without changes to the company's board.

Two longtime Wynn Resorts board members, Ray Irani and Alvin Shoemaker, stepped down in the wake of the scandal, with Mr Shoemaker leaving when his term ends in 2019. Another director, J Edward Virtue, plans to leave in May.

Steve Wynn would have received as much as US$582 million in severance and other benefits had he departed the company under different circumstances. He got US$2.5 million in salary, a US$30 million bonus split between cash and shares, and about US$2 million in other compensation for his work last year, according to the filing.

Wynn Resorts paid out the incentives to top executives in December instead of January to take advantage of a deduction that was altered as part of the Republican tax overhaul. The company paid the additional income taxes owed by the executives as a result.

Mr Maddox earned a total of $22.8 million last year.

After tumbling in late January, Wynn shares have begun to recover and are up 14 per cent for the year. They slipped 0.5 per cent to US$191.86 as of 9.54 am in New York on Thursday.