13 January 2021
United States
Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports
Casino
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Analysts see little change in Las Vegas Sands direction following the death of Sheldon Adelson

(Las Vegas).- Sheldon Adelson often referred to himself as “Team Member Number One,” since he was the original employee of Las Vegas Sands Corp, which he founded in the mid-1990s.

Until his death late Monday night from complications due to the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Adelson, 87, plotted the company’s direction. Las Vegas Sands has grown into a multi-billion-dollar casino corporation that owns and operates integrated resort properties and convention facilities on the Las Vegas Strip, Macau, and Singapore. It has a market capitalization of almost $45 billion.

Wall Street said Tuesday that won’t change. “We expect focus to remain on Asian markets including Macau and Japan, where the company has cooperation with the local governments,” Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon told investors in a research note Tuesday. “Mr. Adelson has also pushed for land-based casinos in large markets in the U.S. like New York and Texas, and we expect this philosophy to continue going forward.”

Global Market Advisors Partner Brendan Bussmann also suggested Macau would continue to be a focus. The company’s $2.2 billion renovation of Sands Cotai Central into The Londoner is expected to open later this month and Las Vegas is focused on renewing its gaming concession with the Macau government next year.

Asia will continue to be the biggest growth opportunity for the company,” Bussmann said. “While there continue to be questions around the Macau concession process, no company has invested more on Cotai than Las Vegas Sands due in part to the vision Mr. Adelson saw for the market.”

Investors seemed to agree with those opinions. Las Vegas Sands’ shares, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, showed little movement Tuesday after news of Adelson’s passing garnered international headlines, closing at $56.63 up 21 cents or 0.37%.

For now, Las Vegas Sands President Rob Goldstein, who was named acting chairman and CEO a week ago when the company said Adelson was taking medical leave, remains in place.

Goldstein held a variety of company leadership roles since joining Las Vegas Sands in 1995. He has been the company’s president since 2015.

Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli said last week Goldstein was “more than simply well equipped to perform the active duties in the absence of Mr. Adelson during his treatment.”

On Tuesday, Morgan Stanley gaming analyst Thomas Allen said he expects Goldstein to become the permanent chairman and CEO.

However, there could be a move to place a family member in that role. Las Vegas Sands Chief Financial Officer Patrick Dumont, who is married to Miriam Adelson’s daughter from her first marriage, Sivan Ochshorn, has increased his public persona in the company’s leadership over the past few years.
Allen noted that Sheldon Adelson only directly owned 9% of Las Vegas Sands. The majority of his family’s 57% ownership stake is controlled by Miriam Adelson, 75, and several family trusts.

Miriam Adelson, an Israeli-born doctor who specializes in treating substance abuse, is said to have influenced her husband’s strong support of Israel, where the company said he will be buried.

The move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the Trump Administration in 2017 came after heavy lobbying by the Adelsons. Miriam Adelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump in 2018.

“Over time, we would not be surprised to see a member of the Adelson family take over one of these roles, specifically with CFO Patrick Dumont a logical potential candidate,” Allen told investors.

Allen didn’t anticipate a “meaningful divestiture of stock.” He expects the company’s quarterly dividends – suspended this year due to business disruption from the coronavirus pandemic – to resume at a level below 2019’s figures once a post-COVID-19 balance sheet shows improvement.

Goldstein’s influence might already be apparent. Bloomberg News revealed the company was in discussions with potential partners to enter the sports betting business. It would mark a major shift for Las Vegas Sands since creating a sports betting platform include an online or mobile component. Sheldon Adelson had long opposed any form of Internet wagering.

Also, in October the company confirmed it was in preliminary talks with an advisor that could lead to a sale of its Las Vegas Strip gaming and convention operations in a deal valued at $6 billion.

For now, however, analysts do not expect any major movements by Las Vegas Sands. “We expect there should be little change in the near term,” Jefferies gaming analyst David Katz told investors. “The management team (is) solid and stable and the operating profile as unquestionably strong.”