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Wednesday, January 13, 2021, 23:59
Bets on for Macao's Sands China after US billionaire's death
By Reuters
Wednesday, January 13, 2021, 23:59 By Reuters

In this Sept 13, 2016 file photo, tourists look at a replica of the Eiffel Tower after the opening of the Sands mega resort The Parisian in Macao. (ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)

HONG KONG - Sands China Ltd’s adjustment to life after the death of billionaire founder Sheldon Adelson, coming a year before the firm’s gaming licence expires, could open up opportunities for Chinese mainland investors to acquire a stake, industry executives said.

Without the larger-than-life visionary at the helm, the firm may be more willing to sell a stake or suitors may take advantage of his absence to buy a degree of control without opposition, executives told Reuters.

Billionaire Steve Adelson was widely credited with helping transform Macao into a center of luxury resorts and convention centers with revenue that now dwarfs that of Las Vegas

Adelson, who died on Jan 11 aged 87, was widely credited with helping transform the Macao Special Administrative Region into a center of luxury resorts and convention centers with revenue that now dwarfs that of Las Vegas, home of his US flagship Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Yet gaming licenses for Macao’s six casino operators, including Sands China, are set to expire in 2022.

Parent Las Vegas Sands earns the bulk of its revenue from Asian properties, including the Venetian and Parisian in Macao and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The casino operator is due to open British-themed resort Londoner in Macao in February.

Sands did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

ALSO READ: Macao to ban entry of residents who traveled outside China

In January, MGM China Holdings Ltd shareholder Snow Lake Capital urged MGM Resorts International to sell 20 percent of the Macao casino operator to a mainland strategic partner to help secure its local casino licence.

In an open letter, Snow Lake said markets already reflected licence renewal concern for US-owned Macao operators through trading performance and valuation - citing the high profitability yet low valuation of market leader Sands China.

Heeding government calls to help diversify Macao’s gaming-dependent economy, Sands China built the SAR’s largest convention center and exhibition space, entertainment theaters and around 13,000 hotel rooms.

READ MORE: Macao GDP drops by 63.8% in Q3 2020

Adding a mainland partner would improve Sands China’s licence chances and also boost its marketing ability in the mainland, said Anthony Lawrance, managing director of consultancy Greater Bay Insight.

Still, risks for potential suitors include legal battles. In one case going to trial in June, former partner Asian American is seeking US$12 billion to compensate for lost profit from 2004 to 2020 after Sands China opted to change partner. 


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