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LAS VEGAS-MGM MIRAGE chairman and CEO Terry Lanni told the company on Thursday he is retiring from his executive positions, effective Nov. 30, but will remain as a member of its board of directors. The company’s board of directors has not yet named a successor; Lanni is recommending that COO Jim Murren succeed him as chairman and CEO.

MGM Mirage has grown its portfolio from one resort in Las Vegas to 17 worldwide in the 13-plus years Lanni has been chairman of the company. Next year, the company will complete CityCenter, a $9.2-billion casino complex on the Strip that is being called the most expensive private commercial development in US history. “I believe it is now time to step aside from full-time engagement and turn over the reins to the new generation. “[Murren] is fully equipped to lead the company through these turbulent times in the global economy and take it to new levels of growth and success.”

Lanni was at the helm for its mergers with Mirage Resorts in 2000 and Mandalay Resort Group in 2005. He earned more than $9 million in compensation in 2007 alone, including salary, non-equity incentive plan compensation, retirement benefits and perks such as personal use of the company aircraft. “The company will always be indebted to Terry for his many years of leadership and wisdom, [and] are delighted…the company will have available his wealth of experience and institutional knowledge,” said Kirk Kerkorian, majority shareholder of MGM Mirage.

Shortly after the announcement, the Wall Street Journal reported on discrepancies between Lanni’s corporate biography and records at the University of California. His corporate biography says he earned a master’s degree in finance; UC records show he completed classes toward the degree but never graduated, according to the report.

Lanni has reportedly said he believed he received an honorary degree in 1992. However, UC reportedly hasn’t given out an honorary master’s degree in business since 1933, and information published by MGM Mirage mention the degree long before 1992, according to the report.

MGM says the discrepancy had no bearing on Lanni decision to retire, which it says he first considered sometime last year. In a letter to employees, Lanni said neither health nor political or professional aspirations are the impetus for his departure; he simply wants to devote more time to his family’s foundation and to his wife.

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