Las Vegas Sands quitting US to focus on Asia

The marquee at The Palazzo Las Vegas displaying a tribute to Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, who died on Jan 11. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
The marquee at The Palazzo Las Vegas displaying a tribute to Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, who died on Jan 11. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Las Vegas Sands, founded by the late casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, will sell its Vegas properties for US$6.25 billion (S$8.33 billion), exiting the US gambling hot spot after three decades to focus on Asia, home to Singapore and the world's largest gambling hub, Macau.

It is also shortening its name to Sands as a result of leaving Las Vegas, CNN reported. In a press release, Mr Adelson's company said the change is "bittersweet" and will help it focus on faster-growing markets, such as Asia.

The sale comes nearly two months after the death of Mr Adelson - widely credited with helping transform the Chinese territory of Macau from a den of gambling parlours into a centre of luxury resorts and convention centres with revenue that now dwarfs Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Sands said the deal underscores its strategy of reinvesting in its Asian operations, with a focus on Macau and Singapore, where it owns the Marina Bay Sands casino resort. Macau and Singapore accounted for 48 per cent and 35 per cent of the firm's total revenue last year, respectively, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

"The deal further strengthens the company's balance sheet to fund future growth in other domestic and global markets," Jefferies analysts said, viewing the sale as a net positive.

The properties being sold include the Venetian Resort Las Vegas and the Sands Expo and Convention Centre. A possible sale of the properties was widely reported late last year.

The gambling industry, which thrives on air travel and large groups of people in close proximity, has been one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Las Vegas Sands reported a loss of US$1.69 billion last year, the biggest in its history, as travel restrictions and lockdowns brought the gambling industry to a virtual standstill. The company's cash and short-term investments halved to US$2.12 billion at the end of last year, from 2019.

But widespread vaccinations are expected to aid in the travel recovery. Last month, rival MGM Resorts signalled a pick-up in demand later this year as Covid-19 vaccines become more widely available.

Apollo Global Management's affiliate-managed funds will buy the operating company of the Venetian for US$2.25 billion and VICI Properties will buy the land and real estate assets of the Venetian for US$4 billion.

Mr Alex van Hoek, partner at Apollo, said the investment "underscores our conviction in a strong recovery for Las Vegas as vaccines usher in a reopening of leisure and travel in the United States and across the world".

  • US$1.69b

    Las Vegas Sands' loss for last year - the equivalent of S$2.25 billion - is the biggest in its history, as travel restrictions and lockdowns brought the gambling industry to a virtual standstill.

The S&P 500 casinos and gaming index has gained 15.2 per cent this year, compared to a 3 per cent rise in the S&P 500.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2021, with the headline 'Las Vegas Sands quitting US to focus on Asia'. Subscribe