he announcement came as the Wall Street Journal said it had raised questions to the company about Lanni’s claim that he earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California.
In his biography on the MGM website, Lanni is described as having earned an M.B.A. in Finance from USC in addition to a bachelor of the arts degree in speech and a bachelor of science degree in general management from the same school.
USC spokesman James Grant on Thursday said that the university had informed MGM that Lanni had not, in fact, earned the M.B.A.
Lanni is quoted in the Journal article as saying that the newspaper’s inquiries had nothing to do with his decision to resign. He also told the Journal that he did not finish his MBA because he went to work instead, and that he was awarded an honorary MBA from USC in the 1970s. USC’s Grant said, however, that the university had not awarded an honorary MBA since 1933.
"The Journal story is a repulsive result of media marketing - it is not journalism," MGM spokesman Alan Feldman said in an email when asked to comment on the content of the story. "While the Journal’s inquiry made us aware that his official bio was unclear, it had no bearing whatsoever on his decision to retire," Feldman said, adding that succession plans had been in the works for almost two years.
Lanni told employees in a letter that he intended to devote himself to a family charitable foundation. MGM said Lanni will remain as a member of the company’s board, which will take up the issue of formally naming his successor at an upcoming meeting.
Shares of MGM and other casino operators have been punished over the past year as weak consumer sentiment sapped demand for gambling and tight credit markets have jeopardized growth opportunities.
Shares of MGM, which rose 7.7 % to close at us$ 10.77 on the New York Stock Exchange, were not trading after-hours.