Adelson’s absence no impact on operations: analysts

Adelson’s absence no impact on operations: analysts

The announcement that Sheldon Adelson (pictured in a file photo), chairman and chief executive of United States-based casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp, is taking a medical leave is not a concern in terms of changes in strategy at the group, say two separate brokerages.

Las Vegas Sands, the parent of Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd, said in a Thursday statement that Mr Adelson was taking leave of medical absence “effective immediately” in order to receive treatment for lymphoma, a form of cancer. Mr Adelson is also chairman and CEO of the Macau unit.

The statement said Robert Goldstein, the group’s president and chief operating officer, would continue in those roles, while also becoming acting CEO and acting chairman of both Las Vegas Sands and Sands China, “effective immediately”.

In a separate filing on Thursday, Sands China said it had named Grant Chum Kwan Lock to the firm’s board. He also serves as the company’s executive vice president. During the leave of absence Mr Adelson will be a non-executive director of Sands China, stated the filing.

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc stated in a Thursday memo that Mr Goldstein “is more than simply well equipped to perform the active duties in the absence of Mr Adelson during his treatment.”

“As it pertains to the international activities of Las Vegas Sands, we believe relevant governments are aware that the commitments made by Mr Adelson, on behalf of the company, are generational and as such, we do not believe there will be concerns around a change in strategy in Mr Adelson’s absence,” added analysts Carlo Santarelli and Steven Pizzella.

It is the second time recently that Mr Adelson, 87, has spent time away from his duties due to lymphoma. When he was first diagnosed with cancer, he did not participate in the company’s quarterly earnings conference calls for about a year, but never formally took medical leave.

In a Thursday note, JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd said it did not expect any changes to Sands China’s operations during Mr Adelson’s absence, as the Macau unit had “always been managed by the local management team”.

“It’s also unlikely that the group’s strategic direction changes with this appointment, since we have long viewed Mr Goldstein as ‘the next man up’,” wrote analysts DS Kim and Derek Choi.

Mr Goldstein has been president and COO – and a member of the Las Vegas Sands’ board – since 2015 and had “held a variety of senior leadership positions since joining the company in 1995,” according to company information.

Mr Goldstein “is universally respected by investors, casino peers, employees and – importantly – the Adelson family (which owns a majority stake in Las Vegas Sands, in turn holding 70 percent of Sands China),” wrote the JP Morgan analysts.

At the time of the group’s 2020 proxy statement to investors, issued in April, Mr Adelson, his wife and family trusts, held 56.6 percent of the group’s outstanding common stock.

“Impact on Sands’ relations with governments (Macau and Beijing) may be open for debate, but we similarly see no negative impact on its positioning in the market – in a similar way that we didn’t see much impact from Mr Steve Wynn’s departure or Mr Stanley Ho’s demise,” added the JP Morgan team, referring respectively to the founder of Wynn Resorts Ltd and of SJM Holdings Ltd, firms that also have Macau gaming interests.

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