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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Who Got Rich This Week: Trump Backer Sheldon Adelson Gets $1 Billion Boost From Macau

JUL 16, 2016

Who Got Rich This Week: Trump Backer Sheldon Adelson Gets $1 Billion Boost From Macau

(Credit: AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
The warm summer weather may finally be heating up the slumping casino industry in Macau. After gaming revenue fell to a near five year low in June, a strong performance in the first 10 days of July has analysts projecting an upward trend for the rest of the month, according to research reported by CNBC. Investors have cheered the welcome news, sending the stock of Las Vegas Sands – one of the biggest players in the city — up 6% in the past week. Founder Sheldon Adelson, who holds a 10% stake in the company, added $1.1 billion to his vast fortune, pushing his net worth to $26.4 billion.

While Macau is still the biggest gaming hub in the world, the former Portuguese territory has had a rough go of it in the past two years, after Chinese president Xi Jinping made cracking down on corruption one of the main goals of his administration. Tourism from mainland China dropped, even though Macau remains the only city in the country with legal casinos. A slowing Chinese economy didn’t help matters; Hong Kong, located just a ferry ride away, also saw a dip in visits from mainlanders.

Las Vegas Sands, the first American company to operate a Vegas-style casino in Macau, has felt the burn of the gaming downturn. Its four Macau resorts — once the crown jewel of Adelson’s gambling empire — has seen their casino revenues tumble down 26% to 44% last year. And a turnaround couldn’t come fast enough; the company’s $2.7 billion, 3,000-room Parisian Macau, which began construction in 2013, is set to open in late 2016.

The extra money may have come at an opportune time for Adelson. According to a report published by Politico, the prominent Republican donor has been asked to shell out $6 million to fund the GOP’s July Cleveland convention. In the months since Donald Trump has become the presumptive Republican nominee, a score of sponsors have backed out in an effort to distance themselves from the controversial real estate magnate, costing the Republican National Committee up to $8.1 million in pledged money. But Adelson can certainly afford to cut the check; the LV Sands chairman was courted by Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz earlier in the primary, after donating nearly $100 million to GOP-aligned super PACs in 2012, including $30 million to support Mitt Romney’s White House run.

The outspoken Trump backer, who endorsed the billionaire candidate in May, is no stranger to controversy himself. A Boston-native, Adelson grew up in a tenement house, and started his first business at 12 years old when he borrowed $200 from his uncle to sell newspapers on a street corner. The staunch Israel defender eventually founded a computer trade show named COMDEX in 1979, before buying Sin City’s Sands Hotel with a partner in 1989. Six years later, he sold COMDEX for over $800 million, then poured the money into building the iconic Venetian Hotel, eventually growing Las Vegas Sands into the biggest casino company in America.

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