Adelson Takes Over as CEO of Sands China

Las Vegas Sands Corp. founder and Chairman Sheldon Adelson (l.) is taking the top spot at Sands China Ltd. as current boss Edward Tracy retires. The 81-year-old billionaire casino mogul will become the new chief executive of the company’s subsidiary in Macau.

Sheldon takes the helm during historic slump

Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. will become chief executive officer at Sands China Ltd., the company’s Macau unit. The 81-year-old business titan is taking the reins during an unprecedented slump in the Chinese gaming hub.

In a January 23 statement, Adelson announced he will take over on March 6, replacing Edward Tracy, former Sands China president, who is retiring. Las Vegas Sands President Rob Goldstein will become interim president of Sands China.

Adelson owns 53 percent of the company, which owns the Venetian Macau, Sands Macau, Four Seasons Macau and the Sands Cotai Central complex. The company is planning to open another hotel on the Sands Cotai site this year, and is currently developing a new resort on the Cotai Strip. The $2.7 billion French-themed Parisian is expected to open in 2016.

“Business strategy has always been decided by Mr. Adelson, so in terms of strategy, I wouldn’t expect any change,” gaming analyst Goh Shengyong of BNP Paribas told Bloomberg News. “It would be more of realigning and getting Macau and Singapore to report directly to Vegas.”

Following a crackdown on corruption and money laundering by the Mainland Chinese government, Macau’s casino industry saw seven straight months of declining revenues in 2014. Revenues topped out at $44.1 billion for the year for Macau’s first-ever annual decline, a 2.6 percent total drop, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal. December was the worst month: the numbers dropped a breathtaking 30.4 percent.

The crackdown, ordered by President Xi Jinping, has scared away high-end business, which was largely responsible for Macau’s record $45.2 billion gaming revenue total in 2013.

The management changes follow a string of recent departures of top executives at Sands China, reported the Las Vegas Sun. Former President Mike Leven retired in December. The Macau subsidiary’s general counsel will retire in April. And “senior executives in finance and international marketing” have also recently left the company, sources told the Sun.

Other former executives left Sands after clashing with Adelson. Bill Weidner, a former president and chief operating officer at Sands, left in March 2009 after disagreeing with Adelson over the company’s debt following a decline in share values during the financial crisis. And Sands fired a previous Macau chief executive, Steve Jacobs, in July 2010. He later filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit that prompted a U.S. investigations into Sands’ operations. The suit is ongoing.

Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Tang sounded a note of caution as Adelson prepared to take the helm. “We are concerned that the frequent senior management reshuffle could lead to another round of mid-level management departures from the company,” she said in a note.

Operations in Macau contribute almost two-thirds of Las Vegas Sands’ overall revenue, reported Bloomberg.