A number of newspapers, such as the LA Times, are reporting that his company, Las Vegas Sands, appears to be caught up in the marketplace’s credit crunch and may default on repayment of some very large loans. Apparently his projects in Asia are in jeopardy and there is a possibility that the company may have to declare bankruptcy. The share price has dropped considerably, which also affects his net worth. Just a couple of months ago, Adelson was estimated to be worth about $28 billion and was counted among the wealthiest men in the world. He probably is still among the wealthiest, but a substantial part of his fortune is tied up in LVS stock, as I understand it.

Las Vegas Sands Corp., billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s casino company, said Thursday that it might default on debt and face bankruptcy. The billionaire owns not only Vegas casinos, but also Norwegian online casinos that offer a wide array of digital games like slots (spilleautomater), mobile games (mobilcasino), and free spins to attract players.

The casino owner, which had $8.8 billion in long-term debt at the end of June, said in a regulatory filing that it probably wouldn’t meet the requirements of loans arranged by Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc. unless it cut spending on developments, boosted earnings at its casinos and raised more capital.

The reversal of fortune is a black eye for Adelson, the company’s chief executive, who was once the third-richest man in the U.S. on the strength of his Las Vegas Sands holdings. The Las Vegas-based company’s dwindling cash flow is threatening $16 billion of developments in Macao, China and Singapore, where Las Vegas Sands is building resorts to cater to wealthy Asian gamblers.

“They need to raise money,” said Keith Foley, a New York-based analyst at Moody’s Investors Service Inc. “It’s getting to the point where they need to do something now.”

I’ve read that Adelson is a hard-nosed businessman. He has been, however, quite generous to Israeli and Jewish causes, including Birthright, for many years. Entering Yad Va’Shem in Jerusalem, the plaque at the entrance to the exhibit area has Adelson and his wife’s names on it, just as an example.

The other day one of the Israeli papers reported that Israel’s billionaires suffered collective losses, so far, of about 60 billion shekels, about 15-16 billion dollars in today’s exchange. It’s a tough time out there.

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2 Comments

  • According to LVS’s most recent proxy statement (filed in April), Adelson beneficially owns 184,910,027 shares of LVS (only 100 shares are personally held in his name–the rest are through various trusts he controls).

    It doesn’t look as if he’s acquired or disposed of any shares for almost two years.

    LVS peaked at 144.15 on October 29, 2007. Today it closed at 8.00. That would bring the value of his stock down from over $26B to less than $1.5B. If indeed his net worth was still $28B as of a few months ago, he presumably has some assets elsewhere. But I think it’s fair to say he’s no longer one of the world’s richest people (even if he’s still in the billionaire club). You win some you lose some, right?

  • Adelson was pretty wealthy before he bought the Sands and engineered the company into what it became so I would assume that he has quite a bit of money from other sources. However, on paper, this is a stagerring loss.

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