Sands eyes off more Macau investment

By William Brown Updated
Sands eyes off more Macau investment

A Las Vegas casino heavyweight is looking to increase its holdings in Macau following the recent sale of assets in the United States.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that Las Vegas Sands is considering using some of the proceeds from the sale of its Vegas assets to increase its shareholding in Sands China, its Macau subsidiary.

The possibility was floated by Las Vegas Sands president and chief operating officer Patrick Dumont during the company’s first quarter earnings call, with the company still assessing how best to deploy an impending US$6.25 billion windfall.

Las Vegas Sands currently holds a 69.94 per cent stake in Sands China.

“It’s definitely something that we think about and will consider over time,” Dumont said.

“From our standpoint, we still believe in the long-term future and success of Macau as a world-leading tourism destination and as Rob has said before, we plan to invest more there in non-gaming.

“Where we’re at now is we don’t have the proceeds yet, we’re looking at the options and with a focus on returns.

“We’re looking at new developments, we’re looking at developing more in the markets that we’re in and I think increasing our stake will be something we think about.

“There is a lot of opportunity in front of the company.

“We’re staying patient, we’re looking at it all and we’re going to look at it through different lenses.

Dumont noted that under Hong Kong Stock Exchange rules, a minimum of 25 per cent of shares are required to be held publicly although “there are exceptions”.

Las Vegas Sands announced in March that it reached an agreement with two separate investment groups to sell its entire Las Vegas portfolio for US$6.25 billion.

Chairman and chief executive officer Rob Goldstein said at the time that the sale would see Las Vegas Sands instead focus its resources on reinvestment in Asia and high growth opportunities in new markets.

Sands looks to Singapore

Major global real money casino operator Las Vegas Sands is poised to invest more heavily into the Singapore market, following the sale of its Vegas assets.

GGR Asia reported in March that the group’s president and chief operating officer Patrick Dumont made the announcement, following its decision to sell off its Las Vegas gaming and non-gaming assets for US$6.25 billion.

The deal includes the Venetian Resort Las Vegas and the Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

Las Vegas Sands is the parent of Macau casino operator Sands china and of Marina Bay Sands, the operator of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands casino resort.

Mr Dumont told investors that the company was keen in investing more in Singapore given the return profile of that market.

“Given the Las Vegas transaction, we are looking to invest more in Singapore at this point,” said the executive.

“We are very privileged to have reached an agreement for a new development there, for expanding Marina Bay Sands,” he added.

Las Vegas Sands is to invest an additional US$3.3 billion to expand Marina Bay Sands in return for an extension, until the existing duopoly, of its gaming rights in Singapore.

The company will build a fourth tower adjacent to its existing complex.

The expansion plans also include a 15,000-seat arena and a new luxury all-suite hotel with about 1,000 rooms, topped with a sky roof.

“We are very focused on Marina Bay Sands. We also intend to invest significantly in the existing towers, to ensure that the property remains competitive in the future,” he said.

Robert Goldstein, Las Vegas Sands’ chairman and chief executive, also said on the JP Morgan forum that the company was “eager to deploy capital and reinvest” in Macau and Singapore, “where the return on investment is higher than in Las Vegas.”

“I believe the Macau government, as part of the licence renewal process, will come to us and mandate, or ask us, to spend more dollars, large capital dollars to grow our business, which we would be delighted to spend as much as they want,” Mr Goldstein said.

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