Pro-Beijing Players Could Take Control of Macau's Sands China as Sheldon Adelson is Gone - Report

What is the future of Sands China Ltd after the death of billionaire founder Sheldon Adelson? With the storied business magnate gone, the company may be willing to sell a stake to curry favor with China's government, Reuters has cited executives as saying.

Adelson, who transformed the Chinese territory of Macau into a hub of luxury resorts and convention centers, died on January 11, aged 87. The inflexion point in the history of Sands China comes at a time when its revenue has grown much bigger than Adelson's flagship company Las Vegas Sands Corporation.

Sheldon Adelson
Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas Sands Corporation Bectrigger/ Wikimedia Commons

The immediate crisis facing the company is that the gaming license for Sands China is set to expire in 2022. "This presents a window of opportunity for Chinese parties to come in and take a strategic stake in the company," said Ben Lee, founder of Macau gaming consultancy IGamiX, told Reuters. The practical point is that with a Chinese partner in the company, it would be easier to get new concessions from the government.

China's Strong Position

Whichever way it turns out, Beijing will have a strong position on how the Sands Corporation is moving ahead in the future. Matthew Ossolinski, an investor in Las Vegas Sands, said that any decision will depend on Beijing. "Increased Chinese ownership in any of the large operators makes sense for political reasons and could be a net positive for existing shareholders," he said, the agency reported.

Other consultants have also said adding a Chinese partner would help Sands China smoothen out the license renewal process. "It would help for what comes next in Macau after the licences are awarded: access to new land and opportunities in (the mainland city of) Hengqin," said Anthony Lawrance, managing director of consultancy Greater Bay Insight.

Adelson's Ties with Trump

Industry observers feel that if a Chinese entity buys into the Sands, it will help partially allay Beijing's concerns over Adelson's close ties with President Trump. With Adelson gone, it is an opportunity for Beijing to scrub the uneasy past.

Adelson was one of the most prolific benefactors of Trump's political campaign. In the 2020 election, the Adelsons donated as much as $172.7 million to Trump and other Republicans. Adelson was also a strong supporter of Jewish and also Zionist organizations.

Impact on Las Vegas Sands

Such a turn of events will also have a huge impact on Las Vegas Sands as well. The bulk of the company's revenues come from Asian properties like the Venetian and Parisian resorts in Macau, as well as Singapore's Marina Bay Sands.