Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) is one step closer to making one of the strangest, most profitable share buybacks in corporate history. A year ago today, the company announced that it was redeeming Kazuo Okada's 24-million-share stake in Wynn Resorts due to improper actions with Philippine officials, invoking a clause that allows the company to buy back the shares.
The company issued a 10-year, $1.9 billion promissory note with an interest rate of 2% to Okada. The note was a discount to the $2.77 billion market value of his stake at the time, a value that is up slightly in the past year.
The news on Friday involved a U.S. District Court ruling that Okada couldn't stop a special meeting of shareholders on Feb. 22 to remove him from the board of directors. Other legal suits are pending, but this is another step toward ousting Okada.
Rules that stung Okada
The rule that Wynn Resorts is evoking isn't any different from what MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM), Caesars Entertainment, or Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) have on the books. Regulators force directors, large shareholders, and the company itself to have appropriate business relationships, and shareholder rules follow.
MGM was forced to sell a stake in the Borgata due to state regulators finding its venture in Macau unsuitable. Las Vegas Sands says in its annual filing that both Nevada and Macau regulators can punish the company for even paying dividends to an unsuitable shareholder.
Fight not over
This isn't the last we'll hear of the Okada battle with Wynn Resorts, but it is one step closer to being over. If it is completed as the company plans, it will be one of the great share buybacks in history: a discount to market value and a 10-year payout for shareholders.