Adelson eyes Macau dissent as top aide vacates office

Mar 10, 2009 4:08 PM
Industry Insider by Ray Poirier | Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS), saw his troubles mount over the weekend.

First came a move toward "protectionism" in Macau where the company has huge investments and then on Monday the departure of his No. 1 helper.

William P. Weidner, 62, president and COO of LVS, was out as a company executive and was no longer a member of the board of directors.

However, his replacement, Michael Leven, 70, a member of the board of directors since 2004, won’t move into his new office until April 1, leaving the No. 2 responsibilities with Adelson.

Further details of the sudden transition were expected when the company files a statement with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Weidner was named to his LVS executive position in 1995 and was a major factor in the company’s development both in the U.S. and in Macau.

In recent weeks, Macau gambling magnate Stanley Ho, who for more than three decades had a monopoly in that Chinese protectorate, has been attempting to foment anti-American sentiment.

News accounts have Ho saying, "We are Chinese. We should unite against foreign capital. We cannot keep silent. If not, the foreign capital will bully us."

His complaint was aimed at Las Vegas Sands but it could include Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) and MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGM), although the latter’s partner is Pansy Ho, Stanley’s daughter and probable heir.

Responding to Ho’s admonitions, Adelson told the Wall Street Journal of his concern over Ho’s protectionist comments.

"You never know the effect his words could have," Adelson was quoted as saying.

Ho reportedly urged Macau’s Chinese visitors to "unite against" the Las Vegas-styled casino Adelson’s company has built and currently operates.

Shares of LVS fell $0.35 each to $1.42 during heavy trading on Monday.

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