New Wynn Resorts CEO: I had no prior knowledge of sexual misconduct complaints against Steve Wynn

Key Points
  • CEO Matt Maddox says he never heard about any alleged sexual misconduct by Steve Wynn before the complaints surfaced.
  • Two members of the Wynn board announced their departures this week as lawsuits against its members and Steve Wynn pile up.
Wynn CEO Matt Maddox: Wynn's resignation was the right call

Matt Maddox, new CEO of Wynn Resorts, told CNBC on Friday he never heard about any alleged sexual misconduct by Steve Wynn before the complaints surfaced.

"I did not hear anything," Maddox said in an interview from Las Vegas.

Maddox — who has been with the casino operator since 2002 — defended the company against assertions that Steve Wynn's alleged behavior was well known.

Wynn properties get "twice as many" applications for job openings than any other hotel on the Vegas Strip, Maddox said. "Now for that to be true, could we have that kind of culture?"

Matthew Maddox, Wynn Resorts
Yuya Shino | Reuters

In the last 15 years, Maddox said, "There was never a complaint that made it to me." He added that all Wynn hotels, in Vegas and in Macau, have anonymous hotlines for employees.

In January, Steve Wynn — the long-time chairman and CEO and namesake of the Wynn Resorts — came under fire after The Wall Street Journal reported on misconduct complaints going back years. The disgraced CEO, who has insisted he hasn't done anything wrong, resigned last month, making way for the 42-year-old Maddox.

Steve Wynn was not immediately available to respond to CNBC's request for comment on Maddox's interview.

Steve Wynn, chairman and chief executive officer of Wynn Resorts Ltd.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

This week, two members of the Wynn board announced their departures as lawsuits against its members and Steve Wynn pile up.

Maddox said Wynn Resorts "is not about one person."

In October 2002, when the company went public, "Steve Wynn was very important. No doubt. Investors wanted to know he'd be around," said Maddox. "Fast forward to 2018, we're a $25 billion company. … We have more resources inside our company to grow."

A CEO succession roadmap at Wynn had been in place for the last four years. Maddox said the scandal has certainly accelerated those plans.

After the news of the Wynn allegations surfaced earlier this year, the stock took an immediate hit but has since recovered.

"[With] the moves that we're making as a company — getting rid of the noise, removing litigation, investing in our employees, and meeting with the governments to make sure we're fully cooperating — I'm not concerned about these lingering allegations are going to impact the $25 billion company," Maddox said.

Maddox said he is taking sexual allegations "very seriously" and has since appointed a woman as the new diversity and inclusion officer.

He's also hosting town hall meetings for employees and going on a "listening tour."

"One of the first things I decided to do when I took over as CEO is to make sure we're focused on the business and reduce the noise," he said. "It was just an overhang that was taking too much time and too much attention," he added. "It was taking the air out of the room.

"Social change that is going on in America right now, it's disruptive, but it's there for a reason," he added. "I want the world where my daughters have the exact same opportunities as my son. So 40 percent is not the right goal. We're going to get to 50 percent in gender diversity."

Asked whether Wynn Resorts is up for sale, Maddox said, "We've had no offers to buy Wynn Resorts."

"As a CEO, I have fiduciary duty to entertain anything," he continued. "But what I can tell you is we're not for sale. There's been talks about breaking the company up that also makes no sense. So to pursue strategic alternatives at a time when the narrative is not about the business is a mistake."

Michael Weaver, chief marketing officer for Wynn Resorts, said in an email that, "Mr. Maddox's comments regarding any sale stand for the company's position on the topic. Mr. Maddox's comments are accurate and consistent with all of his previous interview."

Weaver had no comment regarding Steve Wynn.

Maddox said he needs to keep the company and its 25,000 worldwide employees focused on what Wynn Resorts does best. "We build places that are fun and that produce the best returns," he said.

CNBC's Contessa Brewer and Karen Stern as well as the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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