Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

November 13, 2008

UPDATED: MGM Mirage CEO to Retire at Month End

Posted by Hunter

Terry Lanni, MGM Mirage's chairman and CEO, is planning to retire at the end of the month.

Jim Murren, COO, is being recommended for the job.

Whoa... Didn't see this coming. End of the month? That's not much time for a transition. Is he sick? Hopefully not [ED: a memo to employees says it is not health related].

I can't imagine majority shareholder Kerkorian would toss him during such a tumultuous time. They've worked together for ages... It must be something else... The timing is just so strange.

Update: MGM Mirage press release here:

We're discussing this on the Vegas Gang, which will be out later today.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal is reporting there are some questions about his MBA from USC as the school could not verify the degree.


Read archived comments (10 so far)
November 13, 2008 4:53 PM Posted by Brian Fey

I wish I could find a postive spin on this, but I cannot. No matter how I look at it, this seems strange and odd. If it were health related, it would look better to shareholders, being so sudden and all. Because if this was planned, wouldn't he have went ahead and mentioned it on the call a few weeks ago.

I always how these companies drop these bombs after the market has closed. First Wynn's news tonight and now this...Do these companies think we won't notice this stuff???

November 13, 2008 7:18 PM Posted by mike_ch

No, but they're hoping you won't notice it.

Anybody who remembers that "Mr. Big" article in the Review Journal a year or so ago remembers that Lanni made much more money than anybody else on the list. That was when times were good, and times aren't good so I hope whoever moves up doesn't get more of the same.

November 13, 2008 7:35 PM Posted by detroit1051

Didn't Kerkorian and the Board have to twist Lanni's arm to stay when MGM bought Mirage Resorts? If I recall, Lanni wanted to retire then (eight year ago) and stay home in California with his race horses. I'm guessing, but I think in these tough times, Lanni said enough is enough. He has full confidence in Murren, so now's the time.

November 13, 2008 7:44 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

We all wish we could say "I'm filthy rich, I ain't getting any younger, and I don't need this. I'm going home!" I think Mr. Lanni has done a very good job for a long time. I think he'll do a fine job as Governor of Nevada. They need someone form gaming who is smart to correct the tax system there.
I thought USC was University of Smokey Casinos.

November 13, 2008 8:11 PM Posted by mike_ch

Regarding timing, if Lanni left while things were up, it would shake confidence and drop the stock. The stock probably can't get too much lower than it is, it's considered undervalued by anyone who gives it a lookover.

Transition is (probably) painless.

November 14, 2008 12:04 AM Posted by mike_ch

The AP has picked up the USC story though so far it seems to have no local traction.

Lanni as Governor? Hoo boy. Even with Adelson's connections, I don't think voters can connect with a wealthy resort executive from California. Nevada has serious issues extending beyond the budget. When working people in Reno who have been let go are all living in tent cities, I'm not sure someone like Lanni can look like a sympathetic figure.

What the state may have to do is admit this "only tax the tourists" system isn't working, but I'm not sure who can get elected saying that. It's like Prop 13 in California.

November 14, 2008 1:22 PM Posted by David McKee

Almost all the plausible candidates to challenge Jim Gibbons from within the GOP had the misfortune of getting cashiered by their constituents this fall: Joe Heck, Bob Beers, Jon Porter. Which left us with the less-plausible but not impossible Mr. Lanni, at least until the WSJ bombshell. (Although Jim Gibbons has a masters degree in geology but can't find his way around a parking lot, so he's not in a position to make Lanni's degree [or lack of same] an issue.)

As for Adelson helping Lanni: Not gonna happen. Sheldon's tighter than a tick with Gibbons, although Lanni did far more than Adelson to get Gibber the Fibber elected. Sheldon also trashed Lanni publicly, so there's no love lost there. And if you're in the mood for a literal grudge match, how about an Oscar Goodman-vs.-Lanni tussle for the governor's mansion? They've still got a score to settle from '99.

November 14, 2008 2:49 PM Posted by mike_ch

David, that post was the most depressing thing I've ever read. Lanni VS Oscar? Yeah, you've almost made me a supporter of Gibbons.

November 20, 2008 6:15 PM Posted by Mark D

When Dubai World was approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission today, they also announced that they were going to raise their 9.5 percent stake in MGM/Mirage to 20 percent. (That's separate from their 50 percent interest in the CityCenter project.)

January 14, 2009 8:29 AM Posted by Mark D

Steve Friess made some comments in one of his columns the other day about Lanni leaving and I had been wondering the same thing.
Item 3 in this link:
What I would like to know is how responsible was Lanni for MGMM's reckless decision to build all these towers at CityCenter simultaneously without having all the financing in place before starting? With the credit and liquidity crunches happening during the middle of construction MGMM was forced to sell half the project and a large part of the corporation to an outside company, and now has to sell other profitable properties just to finish the project. The resume fraud, and the construction flaw (discovered before the resignation) resulting in a 100 percent loss of potential revenue from the Harmon condos, were just the final humiliating blow, and Lanni had to go.