Sheldon Adelson's Casino Empire Installs New Leadership

Tuesday 26th January 2021

The company's board named Rob Goldstein, 65 years old, chief executive and chairman on Tuesday. Until now, Mr. Adelson had been the only CEO of the company he began in 1989. Mr. Adelson died Jan. 11 at the age of 87 from complications of treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Mr. Goldstein steps into the top job from his most recent post as chief operating officer and president. He joined Sands about 25 years ago and worked on significant company projects such as the Venetian, which opened in 1999 as Mr. Adelson's first mega-casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Mr. Goldstein was widely viewed by Wall Street analysts as the expected successor, and he was named acting CEO when Mr. Adelson began a medical leave earlier this month.

Patrick Dumont, 46, Mr. Adelson's son-in-law, was elevated to chief operating officer and president Tuesday, positioning him to be the next Adelson family member to take the top job one day. Mr. Dumont, previously chief financial officer, joined the company a decade ago and is married to Sivan Ochshorn. Ms. Ochshorn is one of two children from a prior marriage of Miriam Adelson, Mr. Adelson's widow.

Sands, which has properties in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore, has a market capitalization of $40 billion, with $13.7 billion in net revenue in 2019.

"He would expect nothing less than an aggressive pursuit of the work he started, and I am determined to lead this company forward in a way that best honors his vision," Mr. Goldstein said in a written statement on Tuesday.

The Adelson family owns a majority stake in the company, with nearly 57%. Much of the family stake -- valued at roughly $24 billion -- was already under the control of Miriam Adelson before her husband's death, through shares she owned directly and in family trusts she oversees.

Sands is scheduled to release 2020 earnings and host a call with Wall Street analysts on Wednesday, the first since Mr. Adelson's death. Company leaders are expected to say that Mr. Adelson's estate isn't selling shares, which would assuage investor concerns about insiders cashing in, said J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff in a note Monday.

Ms. Adelson, a physician, isn't expected to take on a day-to-day management role in Sands, according to a person familiar with the matter. She founded addiction-treatment and -research clinics in Las Vegas and Tel Aviv and is publisher of a newspaper in Israel. The Adelsons also own the Las Vegas Review-Journal and have been large financial backers of Republican election candidates.

Randy Hyzak, previously Sands's senior vice president and chief accounting officer, was named chief financial officer. He has been with Sands since March 2016.

The executive changes come at a disruptive time for the gambling industry. In part, casino operators' hopes for recovery from the economic hit of the Covid-19 pandemic depend on how quickly vaccines can be distributed and international travel can resume in full. As a result of the pandemic, casinos have re-examined their long-term operating costs. Some have turned to online and sports betting in the U.S. for new revenue streams. Las Vegas Sands's revenue plummeted 82% in the third quarter of last year, compared with the same quarter of the previous year.

In Macau, where Mr. Adelson helped shape the Chinese territory into a global gambling hub, revenue took a heavy hit last year. Total gambling revenue fell 79% from the previous year. Casinos closed temporarily in early 2020 and Covid-19 travel restrictions have limited the flow of visitors into Macau. Meanwhile, Macau operators have a critical deadline looming. Casino licenses are set to expire in 2022, and companies will have to pursue renewed licenses from the Macau government.

"We believe long term in the future of Macau, as an important place to visit for all of China and perhaps even all of Asia," Mr. Goldstein said in a recent interview, before Mr. Adelson's death. Mr. Goldstein added that securing another casino license in Macau is fundamental to the company's future.

In Las Vegas, casino operators' revenue depends heavily on large group events and trade shows, a vision that Mr. Adelson helped shape with his early development of the Sands Expo and Convention Center on the Strip in 1990. The expo center now has 2 million square feet of space.

In October, Sands said it was considering selling its Las Vegas properties, which include the expo center and the Venetian and Palazzo hotel-casinos. Mr. Goldstein said in the recent interview that any sale of Sands's Las Vegas properties hasn't been decided, but in the meantime, the company is looking at expansion opportunities in Texas and New York City.

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