The list is long of potential buyers for the Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Expo and Convention Center which Las Vegas Sands Corp. have all hung “for sale” signs from.
Macquarie Group Limited gaming analyst Chad Beynon’s lists of those with the means and possibly the desire to make bids include Australia’s Crown Resorts, Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta, Galaxy Entertainment Group and Churchill Downs Inc.
He noted that the for-sale properties aren’t just gaming properties on the Las Vegas Strip but also their convention business. He told the Las Vegas Sun, “The buyers that were looking at Caesars, they’re probably the same ones that would at least look at this. Tilman Fertitta was interested in Caesars, so I certainly think he’d be interested. On paper, it seems like that could work.”
He points out, for example that Fertitta owns Landry’s Inc., one of the largest dining chains in the U.S. plus the Golden Nugget and has in the past expressed interest in acquiring a property on the Strip. His cousins own Station Casinos.
Last month Las Vegas Sands admitted that it has had discussions over the possible sale of the properties. The report said the company believes the properties are worth $6 billion.
Due to Covid, Sands has realized a fraction of its normal revenue so far in 2020: $1.8 billion compared to $13.7 billion in the same period last year.
There has been speculation that Sands owner, billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is looking for a way out of the convention business. So far, about 1.7 million attended conventions in Las Vegas this year, compared to 5.1 million for the same period last year.
Beynon argues that the convention business will be the last to revive in Las Vegas, so it would make sense for Adelson to want to leave it. Especially since the $980 Las Vegas Convention Center expansion is almost ready, which will certainly be competition for Sands’ properties.
Other gaming companies are also building convention space, including Caesars Entertainment’s Caesars Forum and Resorts World, a $4 billion casino resort that will open next summer with meeting facilities.
Recently MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle said, “We continue to believe that the material recovery in Las Vegas is dependent on the return of larger-scale conventions and entertainment platforms, along with significant air travel.”
In an interview recently Hornbuckle said he would welcome Sands selling to a less “strong” buyer.
“If somebody else comes in that’s not as strong, I think that bodes to our benefit. I think if they get anywhere near the $6 billion they’re talking about, that would speak well for Las Vegas, fundamentally, in the long run,” he said.