MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren to Step Down as 2020 Forecasts Withdrawn

  • Jim Murren is resigning from a role he has occupied since 2008
  • He helped bring pro sports to Las Vegas and oversaw MGM’s expansion into Asia
  • MGM withdrew 2020 forecasts to assess the impact of the coronavirus on its business
  • Its two Macau properties are shut down for a 15-day period to curb infection rates
Gold lion stature outside MGM casino resort in Macau
Jim Murren’s resignation announcement comes as MGM Resorts assesses the impact of the coronavirus infection and the temporary closure of its Macau casinos. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A long time at the helm

MGM Resorts International’s CEO and chairman, Jim Murren, has informed the company board he plans to step down before his contract expires. He will remain in his current roles until a successor is appointed. 

Murren has been the CEO of the casino giant since 2008 and first began working there in 1998. Speaking about his resignation, he said,

Leading MGM Resorts has been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience in my professional career.”

Murren added that there is a great team still in place at the company, and he is confident his successor can drive on continuing expansion and success.

The board of the MGM has created a committee made up of independent directors that are tasked with finding a replacement for Murren. 

After the initial announcement on Wednesday, shares in the company rose by 7%. The company has been performing strongly in the past year, with its share price up about 17% as the firm continues to undergo a great deal of restructuring.

Murren’s impact as MGM head

Murren has been at the forefront of a lot of changes in MGM’s business since he took over as CEO. He played a part in bringing pro sports to Las Vegas, being involved in the creation of the T-Mobile Arena and attracting the Las Vegas Raiders, Las Vegas Aces, and Las Vegas Golden Knights. 

He was also a key driver of the company’s expansion into Asia. MGM Resorts is now looking at obtaining a casino resort license in Osaka, Japan in addition to its Macau properties.

Murren also had a key part in selling major Las Vegas properties in recent months. These include the Circus Circus, MGM Grand, and the Bellagio. 

MGM’s leading independent director, Roland Hernandez, said: “Jim has led the company through growth, transforming it into a global entertainment company with a worldwide footprint and creating value for MGM Resorts shareholders.”

Company assessing coronavirus effects

The news of Murren stepping down comes as the company assesses the damage the coronavirus may cause to its business going forward. MGM Resorts has already withdrawn its 2020 financial forecast, which will have to be updated to account for the impact of the epidemic.

A significant portion of MGM’s revenue comes from its operations in Macau, particularly from high-roller patrons who play there. 2019 figures showed 27% of company earnings coming from its casinos in the region.

Macau casinos were ordered to shut down by the island’s Chief Executive for an initial two-week period in an attempt to curb the spread of the infection. The authorities have also imposed strict travel restrictions on the region.

Business suffers after Macau casinos closure

MGM currently has two Macau properties, both of which had to close their doors on February 5. If the coronavirus situation does not improve, the closures could be extended. 

a daily loss of US$1.5 million in Macau

The company has since revealed it is making a daily loss of US$1.5 million in Macau. MGM is also concerned that it is not just its Macau casinos that will be affected by this pandemic, as people may be hesitant to travel to its other facilities located around the world, such as in the US. All of this could lead to poorer domestic financial results for 2020. 

Despite the growing unease over the coronavirus infection, MGM Resorts is confident there will be no long-term damage done to the company.