Report: De Francis to Resign MEC Post

Report: De Francis to Resign MEC Post
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Joe De Francis will resign from the Magna Entertainment board of directors.
Joe De Francis will shortly resign as a member of the Magna Entertainment Corp. board of directors, according to a published report.

De Francis, whose family operated and then sold the Maryland Jockey Club to MEC, told the Baltimore Sun he will resign from the board March 3.

"I was always willing to remain on the board as long as I felt I could be helpful and make a contribution," De Francis told the Sun. "My ability to do that has been very seriously constrained. As I mentioned, we've obviously had a clear parting of ways, so I don't think it really serves a purpose to carry on beyond next week."

The anticipated resignation comes on the heels of MEC chairman Frank Stronach telling listeners in a Feb. 29 conference call on 2007 earnings that De Francis would not retain his board appointment.

A caller claimed De Francis’s position on the MEC board was a conflict of interest considering the possibility of slots being legalized in Maryland during a referendum vote in November. The sale of the Maryland Jockey Club to MEC included stipulations that the De Francis family and a minority-owner group would realize 65% of any of MEC slots profits during the initial five years, 50% during the next five years and 40% during the next decade, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Sun reported.

“We had a talk with Joe, and he is not staying as a director for 2008,” Stronach responded to the caller. “We told Joe that he is excluded from strategic plans because there is a conflict of interest.”

De Francis then announced his intent to resign from the board a few hours later. The final payment of $18.3 million on the $89.4 million purchase of the Maryland Jockey Club was made by MEC last October. SEC filings indicated that an additional $3.8 million in termination funds on employment agreements were paid to De Francis and his sister, Karin, in September 2007.

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