Wynn CEO’s sudden departure has analysts scratching their heads

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The surprise departure of Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox has flummoxed Wall Street analysts, who note that it comes at a highly inconvenient time as the casino giant is angling to renew its gaming license in Macau.

And shareholders were given very little warning that Maddox was heading for the exit.

Just moments before the Wynn Resorts earnings call Tuesday, the company made a surprise announcement that 45-year-old chief executive officer Matt Maddox was leaving his job before his contract with Wynn was up. Maddox’s employment contract was through December 2022; he has signed a non-compete agreement through that date, The Post confirmed.

This week, it emerged that Maddox had been probed by the board last year because of an anonymous allegation. It isn’t clear what the allegation entailed.

The board found no wrongdoing and his exit is unrelated to the probe, the company says. A spokesman wouldn’t disclose to The Post what the board was investigating. The complaint was made through an anonymous hotline that is open to employees and even the general public.

The board retained three firms, including Davis Polk, to look into the matter — and the investigation was so thorough the firms even went through Maddox’s cell phone to check for possible evidence.

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Wynn CEO Matt Maddox will step down in January.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“He’s the king of Las Vegas — he has a cushy job with a jet and a lucrative salary,” one person with knowledge of the situation told The Post. “There’s no other job in Vegas he can get that will rival this.” In 2020, Matt Maddox’s total compensation was just north of $24.5 million, according to regulatory filings.

But analysts are less concerned about Maddox losing a multi-million dollar salary and more concerned about whether his departure could lose Wynn its lucrative casino license in Macau.

Pre-pandemic, Wynn’s Macau operations accounted for approximately two-thirds of the company’s profits.

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Steve Wynn was ousted as CEO in 2018 over sexual misconduct allegations.
Corbis via Getty Images

“It’s all very curious,” Jefferies gaming analyst David Katz said, referring to the resignation. He said also with Wynn’s Macau license coming up for renewal, and with Maddox being the point person on Macau it would seem an unusual time to resign.

“There are a lot of theories,” Katz said, and few answers.

A spokesperson for Wynn told The Post, “Matt’s experience in Macau is important to the company and that’s why the board unanimously asked him to remain as a board member of Wynn Macau.” Maddox will also stay on as a board member of Wynn Interactive subsidiaries through 2022.

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Pre-COVID, Wynn’s Macau casino brought in roughly two-thirds of the company’s profit.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

A spokesman for the company adds that incoming CEO Craig Billings also has deep relationships in Macau.

Maddox took over as CEO after Steve Wynn was ousted for multiple reports of sexual misconduct, including a rape allegation.

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