By Farah Master
(Reuters) – U.S. casino mogul Steve Wynn has resigned as CEO of his company Wynn Resorts following claims he routinely subjected women who worked for him to unwanted advances, becoming the latest prominent business leader to quit over sexual misconduct allegations.
The company said it has appointed Matt Maddox, its president since 2013, as chief executive.
Wynn, 76, has denied the accusations published by the Wall Street Journal as “preposterous” and said they were instigated by his ex-wife to seek advantage in their divorce lawsuit.
“In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself the focus of an avalanche of negative publicity…I have reached the conclusion I cannot continue to be effective in my current roles,” he said in a statement.
His decision to step down as CEO and chairman from the company he founded follows his resignation as the finance chairman of the U.S. Republican Party’s fundraising arm, the Republican National Committee, in January.
Shares in Wynn Resorts, worth around $17 billion, have tumbled nearly 20 percent since the Journal report on Jan 26. Shares in Wynn Macau Ltd slumped around 17 percent before they were put on a trading halt on Wednesday.
Its Macau business has been a goldmine for Wynn Resorts, generating more than 75 percent of its total revenues.
Maddox, who has been with Wynn Resorts since it was founded in 2002, is seen as a firm hand and was widely viewed as a favored protege of Wynn, analysts and executives have said.
He has been a non-executive director of Wynn Macau and was its chief financial officer until 2014.
Wynn started in Las Vegas casinos in the 1960s, creating some of Las Vegas’ most iconic landmarks – the Mirage, Bellagio and Treasure Island.
But he was forced to sell his multi-billion dollar operation Mirage Resorts to tycoon Kirk Kerkorian in a hostile takeover in 2000. Kerkorian then created MGM Mirage and Wynn went on to create Wynn Resorts with his ex-wife in 2002.
Wynn has a net worth of $3.3 billion according to Forbes.
(Reporting by Farah Master in Hong Kong Additional reporting by Subrat Patnaik and Ismail in Bengaluru and Miyoung Kim in Singapore; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)