Casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp is exploring a sale of its two flagship hotel-casinos in Las Vegas in a deal that may bring in $6billion, according to reports.
The properties included in the potential sale are the Venetian Resort Las Vegas and the Palazzo, as well as Sands Expo Convention Center, which are all based along the city’s famous Strip, according to Reuters.
Bloomberg also reported that Sands, the world’s largest casino company, is working with an adviser to solicit interest from potential suitors.
The gambling industry, which thrives on air travel and large groups of people in close proximity, is one of the hardest hit industries amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Travel restrictions and capacity limitations are leading to thousands of worker layoffs in Vegas as the United States’ outbreak continues.
Chief Executive Officer of Las Vegas Sands Sheldon Adelson stands with President Donald Trump. It was announced this week that Sands Corp is exploring a sale of its two flagship hotel-casinos in Las Vegas in a deal that may bring in $6billion for the company
Included in the potential sale is the Venetian Resort Las Vegas
As of June 30, Sands had $13.82 billion total outstanding debt, excluding finance leases.
Last week, they reported a third-quarter loss of $565 million, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.
It had a $1billion loss in the second quarter, which was down 97.1 percent from last year.
Chairman and chief executive of the group, Sheldon Adelson, said in the second quarter that a ‘recovery process from the COVID-19 pandemic in each of our markets is now under way’.
Yet the improvement has not been fast enough to save prospects in Vegas.
‘We’re in a world of hurt here in terms of Las Vegas,’ Sands President and COO Rob Goldstein said. ‘I’ve never felt more gloomy than I do today about what’s happening in Las Vegas.’
The Palazzo is the second of Sands’ Strip casinos that could be sold off
Las Vegas has seen a massive downturn in visitors due to the pandemic restrictions
Adelson is the majority shareholder in the company currently valued at $37.5billion.
The sale of the company’s casinos is Vegas would mark Adelson’s departure from the U.S. gambling market and leaving the mogul focused on Asia.
Sands is expected to spend $2.2billion in Macau alone as it extends further into this market.
‘The possible sale of its Las Vegas assets for $6 billion could fund those Asian projects, while $6.3 billion of existing liquidity would be enough to sustain idle operations for 17 months,’ said Brian Egger, senior gaming and lodging analyst.
‘China’s lifting of restrictions on visas should benefit Sands in Macau.’
Macau in China, and Singapore, are already the two larger casino markets for Adelson, with the U.S. accounting for less than 15 percent of revenue last year, Bloomberg reports.
In Macau, which has the world’s biggest gambling market, the company generated 63 percent of its revenue of $13.7billion last year. Signore generated 22 percent.
The recovery in Asia as the coronavirus outbreak was brought under control aided Sands’ operating results in the third quarter, while travelers are still cautious in traveling and spending money in Vegas.
In Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, the company even had a profitable quarter as operations resumed across the resort over the summer months.
Yet recovery in Macau has also been slow, despite China gradually lifting travel restrictions to form a travel bubble there. Visitors in early October were still down 84 percent from last year.
The Vegas deal is said to be in the very early stages with nothing finalized. It is not clear who would buy the casinos and Sands plans to keep its headquarters there.
Adelson is a fan of the lack of state income tax in Nevada and his family owns the local Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The news led to a climb in Sands’ shares in after-hours trading when it was first revealed Monday.
It dropped back as the week progressed, however, but not to the lows seen at the height of the pandemic in March and April when Las Vegas casinos were temporarily shut down by an order from Nevada governor Stephen Sisolak.
Adelson, 87, is one of the world’s richest people and the richest person in Nevada, with a fortune estimated at $41.1billion.
He made his first fortune in Vegas when he began running the Comdex computer trade shows in 1979 and pioneered the idea of linking casinos with meetings and convention space.
The Venetian was the first resort that Adelson constructed and was among the most expensive casinos in the world when it opened in 1999 worth $1.5billion.
He added the Palazzo eight years later, worth $1.8billion.
Pictured, Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam. If the sale goes ahead, it would mark Adelson’s departure from the U.S. gambling market
An aerial view shows Wynn Las Vegas, The Palazzo Las Vegas and The Venetian Las Vegas
The gambling mogul has previously expressed an interest in a New York City casino and hopes that the opportunity could arise in the next year if local authorities give approval.
His attempted escape from Vegas comes during a difficult time for America’s gambling capital.
Bloomberg states that visitors so far this year have been down 55 percent and casino revenue on the Strip was down 45 percent through August.
Air travel to McCarren International Airport also remained down 61 percent in September.
Even when casinos could open again from early June, the Strip only saw small numbers of visitors return slowly.
The fallout from the pandemic has resulted in layoffs for thousands of workers.
In July, Boyd Gaming announced 6,075 layoffs across ten states as visitors numbers remained low.
MGM Resorts International announced that it planned to lay off 18,000 workers in late August and Wynn Resorts last month revealed it would close its Encore resort during the slow midweek days.
And on Tuesday, the Reno Gazette Journal confirmed that more than 1,100 workers at Tropicana, as well as staff at Park MGM and MGM Grand properties hired by a third-party vendor, are losing their jobs.
‘Significant drags on our business will likely continue for the foreseeable future,’ wrote Tropicana assistant general manager Mike Thoma.
‘We could not have anticipated when our properties would be allowed to reopen and how restrictive the new operating conditions would be, and the negative impact this would have on business volumes.’
A further 132 workers are expected to lose their jobs in December.
Sands executives said they expect the Vegas downturn to remain until people are less restricted with travel and have more freedom to spend.
‘I don’t see a lot of things in Las Vegas for us until there is a change structurally,’ said Goldstein.
‘Las Vegas cannot perform without (the) return of these segments,’ he added of the disappearance of conventions. ‘It cannot make money with limited hotel occupancy.’
Adelson has also said that government officials must first ease occupancy restrictions before the trade show and convention industry can make a comeback.
Yet Jan Jones Blackhurst, a former mayor of Las Vegas and current board member of rival Caesars Entertainment Inc., told Bloomberg that if Adelson’s properties are snapped up, it’s a sign that investors are still interested in the city.
‘Sheldon is 87 – maybe he doesn’t need the aggravation,’ she said. ‘I can’t imagine Las Vegas without Sheldon.’