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A Bloomberg report that Sheldon Adelson is exploring the sale of the Venetian and Palazzo casino resorts and Sands Expo Convention Center attached to it so he could focus on Asia took people by surprise throughout the gaming industry late Monday.

If any deal goes through, it would mean the exit of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. from the Las Vegas market.

Bloomberg reported Sands is working with an advisor to solicit interest in the Las Vegas properties and mentioned a price tag of $6 billion. The Sands could not be reached for a comment but a spokesman told Bloomberg it was only early in the discussion and nothing has been finalized.

Sands and Adelson had an earnings report last week and didn’t mention the prospects of a sale.

Besides Las Vegas, Sands’ holdings are in Singapore and Macau. The U.S. market made up less than 15% of revenue, Bloomberg reported.

Josh Swissman, founding partner of The Strategy Group, said the news surprised him and called it an interesting move. He speculated Sands is willing to sell it because its portfolio is heavy in Asia and way outperforms the Las Vegas properties.

“I can see where they might want to get rid of the lowest-performing asset in the group and invest more money where the better-performing assets are based in Asia, but to say that the Venetian and Palazzo and attached convention center are low performing is not entirely accurate. They do a pretty good job with their financial performance,” he said.

Sands has been a big advocate for expansion of offerings in Macau beyond gaming with other forms of tourism and group business, Swissman said. Adelson, who is 87, has said in previous earnings calls of an interest to invest more in Asia.

“Sands has a super healthy balance sheet so it’s not like they need to sell off the Vegas properties,” Swissman said. “They have about $6 billion in available funds on their balance sheets already. But with COVID being what it is, free cash flow to weather the storm if doors shut again is important. I am sure that factored in the decision process as well.”

Swissman said he doesn’t think the properties can be split up given shared infrastructure but anything is possible. He said $6 billion is a massive price tag and a seasoned operator could purchase it and become a contender in the convention business. He said he didn’t know who would be interested and that tribal nations can’t be ruled out.

“There will be some interest,” Swissman said. “But if the reports are correct and $6 billion is the asking price, that price puts it at 11 or 12 times multiple in terms of a sale. A big chunk of those earnings come from non-gaming revenues, particularly group and convention business.

“I will be watching closely. I don’t know if they can end up (getting) that 12 times sales price because the convention business will be slower to return to Vegas than other customer types that are and will be.”

About the Author

Buck Wargo

Buck Wargo is a former journalist with the Los Angeles Times and has been based in Las Vegas as a business, real estate and gaming reporter since 2005.

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