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Sands sells Las Vegas empire for $6.25bn


Land-based gaming giant Las Vegas Sands has agreed to sell all of its Las Vegas properties and operations, in order to shift its focus to the Asian market.

Sands will sell the subsidiaries that operate its US business to funds held by the private equity business Apollo Global Management for $1.05bn in cash and $1.20bn in seller financing, through a loan credit and security agreement. 

Apollo has been particularly acquisitive recently, acquiring International Game Technology (IGT)’s Italian B2C operations; casino operator Great Canadian Gaming and investing €500m in European gaming conglomerate Sakza Group.

Meanwhile, the Venetian’s real estate and related assets will be sold to VICI Properties for $4.00bn in cash.

VICI is a real estate investment trust that was spun off from Caesars in 2017 and has acquired many other casino properties. In particular it owns a lot of real estate operated by its former parent Caesars, as that business is reshaped following its merger with Eldorado Resorts. 

Las Vegas Sands chairman and chief executive officer Robert Goldstein said the property had been a very important part of Sands’ history, as it helped establish the legacy of Las Vegas Sands founder Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson died in January at the age of 87, with Golstein taking over his roles at the head of the operator and its board.

“The Venetian changed the face of future casino development and cemented Sheldon Adelson’s legacy as one of the most influential people in the history of the gaming and hospitality industry,” Goldstein said. “As we announce the sale of The Venetian Resort, we pay tribute to Mr. Adelson’s legacy while starting a new chapter in this company’s history. 

“The property is a best-in-class asset with a talented team of people operating it. I am confident Las Vegas will soon return to a more normal operating environment and the Venetian’s hard-working and dedicated team members will continue delivering a world-class experience to guests eager to enjoy it.  I know I will be rooting for them.”

However, he added that the operator’s primary focus was in Asia and the deal would allow further focus there.

“This company is focused on growth, and we see meaningful opportunities on a variety of fronts. Asia remains the backbone of this company and our developments in Macau and Singapore are the center of our attention,” Goldstein said. “We will always look for ways to reinvest in our properties and those communities.”

However, he added that there may still be investment opportunities for the business in the US.

“There are also potential development opportunities domestically, where we believe significant capital investment will provide a substantial benefit to those jurisdictions while also producing very strong returns for the company,” he said. 

Patrick Dumont, the operator’s president and chief operating officer, reiterated Goldstein’s point that Las Vegas Sands’ primary focus was now elsewhere, but added that this included the online space.

When the business announced its 2020 earnings report, Goldstein also revealed that the operator was exploring “a few opportunities” to expand into online gambling.

“Our long-held strategy of reinvesting in our Asian operations and returning capital to our shareholders will be enhanced through this transaction,” Dumont said.

“Additionally, as our industry continues to evolve, particularly as it relates to the digital marketplace, we are committed to exploring those possibilities.”

Goldman Sachs was Las Vegas Sands’ financial advisor for the deal while Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP served as legal advisor.