Business & Tech

Jim Murren, MGM’s longtime chief executive, to step down

MGM Resorts International’s longtime chairman and chief executive officer, Jim Murren, plans to step before his contract expires.

He’ll remain on the job until a successor is named, the company said Wednesday in a statement. He’s held the post since 2008 and has been with MGM since 1998.

Murren had overseen the company’s decision to develop the MGM Springfield casino, which has been underperforming financial expectations since it opened in 2018. Last month, MGM Resorts replaced Springfield casino president Mike Mathis with Chris Kelley, an executive at one of the company’s properties in Ohio.

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Financial results released Wednesday by the company indicated that the Springfield casino is struggling to keep pace with MGM’s other holdings. MGM Springfield had $71 million in net revenue for the last three months of 2019, down from $77.8 million during the comparable period of 2018. The facility’s earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, amortization, and rent, a measure of the success of a business’s core operations, was the lowest in the company for the fourth quarter, at $3.3 million.

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In a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Murren said the MGM Springfield “has admittedly performed below our expectations, and we’ve recently made some changes there.”

The company has said it is considering selling the real estate underlying the Springfield property while continuing to operate the $960 million facility, a move it has made with several of its other holdings.

Separately, MGM withdrew its earnings forecast for 2020, citing fallout from the deadly coronavirus on its casinos in Macau and Las Vegas.

The company, fresh off the sale of some of its last remaining real estate, said Wednesday the virus has made its outlook unpredictable. To placate investors, MGM announced a $3 billion share repurchase, including a $1.25 billion tender offer starting Thursday, and raised its dividend 15 percent.

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Like other casino owners in the Chinese enclave of Macau, MGM Resorts shut its operations there this month under a government order. That’s led to a loss of business — all while the company has to keep paying staff and maintaining its properties. Last year, MGM got about 27 percent of its revenue from Macau, the largest gambling market in the world.

Even before the coronavirus hit, business in Macau was already hurting because of the political unrest in Hong Kong and trade tensions between the United States and China. Gaming revenue in the region fell 8.4 percent industrywide in the final three months of 2019.

Las Vegas, where MGM is the biggest operator, is also taking a hit from coronavirus, as fewer Asian baccarat players travel to the United States, the company said.

MGM had previously forecast as much as $3.9 billion in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization for 2020.

The Chinese government closed Macau’s casinos for a 15-day period that began Feb. 5, although Matt Maddox, chief executive officer of rival Wynn Resorts Ltd., told investors last week there’s no certainty as to when they will reopen. Wynn said it is losing about $2.5 million a day in Macau.

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MGM Resorts has been implementing an “asset light” strategy, by selling its real estate while continuing to operate the resorts. Previously announced transactions are expected to bring in net cash proceeds of $8.2 billion.

Jim Murren oversaw MGM’s decision to develop the Springfield casino. He will remain in his position until a successor is named.

Earnings for the fourth quarter of 2019, excluding some items, totaled 8 cents a share, missing the 25-cent average of analysts’ estimates. The company cited weaker than expected results in Macau and the related softness in Las Vegas. Revenue, which came in at $3.2 billion, met projections.

Andy Rosen of the Globe staff contributed to this report.