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MGM Mirage chief to step aside as questions swirl

Terry Lanni says the USC business degree listed on his company biography is honorary.

November 14, 2008|Bloomberg News

MGM Mirage, the casino firm majority-owned by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, said Chairman and Chief Executive Terry Lanni would retire this month as questions about his resume surfaced.

Lanni, 65, recommended that the board pick President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Murren, 47, to succeed him, the Las Vegas company said Thursday.

"It's time for a younger generation to take over," Lanni said in a telephone interview. He also cited a desire to spend more time with his family.

When asked if he graduated with a master of business administration degree from USC, as his company biography states, Lanni said he had an honorary MBA from the school. USC spokesman James Grant said Lanni had taken MBA courses but didn't earn a degree. Grant said he couldn't verify that the school gave him an honorary degree.

"If it needs to be corrected, it will be corrected," Lanni said.

The discrepancy was uncovered by the Fraud Discovery Institute, a group co-founded by Barry Minkow, who served more than seven years in prison for fraud in operating the Reseda carpet cleaning business ZZZZ Best Co.

Lanni served as chairman for more than 13 years, expanding the company from one property in Las Vegas to 17 resorts worldwide, the company said. He oversaw MGM Grand Inc.'s combination with Mirage Resorts in 2000 and Mandalay Resort Group in 2005. The company had $7.7 billion in revenue last year.

Lanni leaves as MGM Mirage and other casinos struggle with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Its shares have plunged 87% this year as it has tried to get enough cash to cover loans and finish the $11.2-billion CityCenter project on the Las Vegas Strip.

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