March 12 (Bloomberg) — Las Vegas Sands Corp., the casino operator controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, denied a Hong Kong newspaper report that it may sell its gambling license in Macau.
“We worked very hard to earn the concession and we have no intention of selling the license,” Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said in a phone interview today. Ming Pao Daily, a Chinese-language newspaper, cited two unidentified people as saying there are rumors a Chinese tycoon is interested in taking over Las Vegas Sands’ operations in Macau, including its gambling license.
Adelson on March 10 said he’s in talks with four groups of potential investors and that he’s traveling to China next week to meet with two construction companies that may invest in the company’s stalled USD 12 billion Macau project. Las Vegas Sands’ founder and chief executive officer has also said the company is meeting with a group and an investor with “a very, very deep pocket” who are interested in buying its “existing cash flowing properties.”
The Macau development, including Shangri-La and St. Regis hotels, apartments, a casino and mall, was mothballed in November amid frozen credit markets. Las Vegas Sands earned 70 percent of its USD 4.4 billion revenue last year in Macau, the only place in China where casino gambling is legal.
“There are other things we can possibly do but we looked at it and decided that we want to control the whole project,” Bradley Stone, president of global operations and construction, said in a March 5 interview in Singapore.
Las Vegas Sands raised USD 2.14 billion in November, partly from billionaire Adelson, 75, and his family. It suspended construction on projects in Macau, Las Vegas and Pennsylvania, to conserve cash so the company could finish a casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and a Singapore resort.
Gambling revenue on the Las Vegas Strip, where Adelson’s company owns the Venetian and Palazzo casinos, fell the most on record last year. Macau’s casino gambling revenue rose 31 percent to 108.8 billion patacas, (USD 13.6 billion) with the total, which includes horse and greyhound racing, at 109.8 billion patacas.
China’s government has imposed limits on visits to Macau, where Las Vegas Sands has the Venetian Macao, Sands Macao and Four Seasons Hotel Macao. While that has slowed Macau’s quarter-on-quarter revenue growth, casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. last month said gambling by high-rolling VIPs — who spend at least 1 million patacas (USD 125,000) per visit –“bottomed” in December and rose about 15 percent in February from January.
William Weidner’s departure as chief operating officer and president is no loss for the casino company, according to Adelson. Weidner was the company’s operating chief for 13 years.