After more than a decade at the helm of MGM Resorts International, Jim Murren is stepping down as chairman and chief executive officer, the company announced today.
Murren, whose contract runs through the end of 2021, will continue to serve in his current leadership roles until a successor is appointed, the company said. The board of directors has formed a committee of independent directors to conduct the search, officials said.
"I really feel that after 12 years, especially the last couple of years, we’ve changed the dynamic of this company," Murren said today during a scheduled earnings call.
"I think the company, honestly, has never been in a better position than it is right now," he said. "When I thought through how I could best serve MGM going forward, I thought it was pretty clear that a leader should help lead a company into the next decade or two. I wanted to make sure the board had the time to do a robust search to find my successor."
In a statement, Murren, who has been chairman and CEO since 2008 and with the company since 1998, said he was committed to "supporting a seamless transition."
“On behalf of the entire MGM Resorts board of directors, I want to thank Jim for his years of dedication to the company and the community,” board member Roland Hernandez said in a statement. “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."
Murren was instrumental in establishing professional sports in Las Vegas and was deeply involved in the building of T-Mobile Arena and bringing the Vegas Golden Knights, the Las Vegas Aces and the Las Vegas Raiders to the city, the company said.
He also led MGM Resorts’ expansion in Asia, with the opening of two properties in Macau and the current effort to obtain a license in Osaka, Japan, officials said.
"Leading MGM Resorts has been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience in my professional career,” Murren said in a statement. “It has been an honor to work with such a talented group of men and women who provide millions of guests with memorable life experiences every day all over the world."
Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin, who worked with Murren last year on an $825 million deal to buy Circus Circus and an adjacent 37-acre parcel from MGM, said he was “shocked” by the news.
“I knew Jim very well and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He’s a straight shooter and a very good man,” Ruffin said. “It’s a huge surprise.”
MGM released 2019 fourth-quarter earnings numbers today that showed consolidated net revenues of $3.2 billion, up 4% from the same period in 2018.
Overall, however, results were mixed, with consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and restructuring or rent costs down 3% — $682 million — from the fourth quarter of 2018.
"Our fourth-quarter results were below our expectations, primarily due to lower than expected hold, weakness in Far East baccarat, and certain one-time items," Murren said in a statement. "All other dimensions of our business in Las Vegas performed on or ahead of plan. We were pleased to return more than $1.3 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks in 2019."