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MGM Resorts International has announced that chief operating officer and president Bill Hornbuckle has been named as acting group CEO and president, replacing outgoing incumbent Jim Murren.

Murren informed the MGM board of directors early this year of his decision to step aside following the expiration of his current contract, and, in light of the COVID-19 public health crisis, has vacated the position immediately to provide continuity of leadership for the company.

“We have an incredible challenge ahead. We have a talented leadership team, the best employees in the world, and a loyal customer base,” Hornbuckle commented. 

“I have every confidence that MGM Resorts will remain the global entertainment leader once this crisis is contained and it is safe to operate. I look forward to working with Paul and the entire board of directors as we plan for the future.”   

Furthermore, Murren is to be replaced as chair of the Las Vegas headquartered firm’s board of directors by Paul Salem, currently serving as a member of the MGM Resorts board and chair of the real estate committee, which is in the process of executing the asset light strategy.

“The nation is facing an unprecedented crisis, causing the travel and hospitality industry to grind to a near halt. It is clear that once the threat to the public health has subsided and we are ready to reopen our resorts and casinos, it will take an incredible effort to ramp back up,” Salem explained. 

“We believe continued steady, skilled leadership is needed in this time of great upheaval and uncertainty. Bill is one of the most experienced operators in the business and we have confidence in his ability to bring this company back online. 

“Jim Murren is an outstanding leader who transformed MGM Resorts during his 22 years. Since Jim announced his stepping down from MGM Resorts, we felt that now more than ever, continuity of leadership was of vital importance.”

Murren, who initially advised the company of his decision last month, added: “I fully support accelerating the planned leadership transition to help MGM Resorts address the rapidly changing environment. 

“I have great confidence in Bill Hornbuckle and the management team to lead MGM Resorts at this critical juncture, as we have together through numerous hardships of the past. I will continue to dedicate my efforts to help during this uncertain time, and I will be assisting the State of Nevada in its crisis response and recovery efforts.”