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Sands Plans Global Casino Push on Spain, Asia Investments

Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Anderson
Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp., center, watches a traditional lion dance during the opening of the Sands Cotai Central resort in Macau, China. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson plans to spend $35 billion on building Spanish gambling resorts over nine years and will add a new Macau location to expand globally.

Adelson, speaking today at the opening of the $5 billion Sands Cotai Central, said his Asian business is seeking Macau government approval for an added 3,600-room casino hotel in the world’s largest gambling hub. In Spain, the company wants to build 12 resorts in three phases, he said.

The new locations may help boost the casino operator’s revenue outside the U.S. Las Vegas Sands, which is already benefiting from Asian expansion, said in February that fourth-quarter profit rose 17 percent on growth in Singapore and Macau, the only place in China where casinos are legal.

“The Macau government hasn’t given any signal on any approvals for a while and without that you are stalled,” said Lantis Li, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Capital Securities Corp. “It’s normal for them to look for other areas for expansion.” It would take time to see benefits from other markets because of regulatory approvals needed, he said.

The company plans to build 12 integrated resorts in Spain with each featuring 3,000 rooms intended to attract Eastern European and Russian visitors, Adelson said today.

Madrid or Barcelona

Adelson previously said Sands has been negotiating with the Spanish government to develop a casino resort strip in a country whose unemployment exceeds 20 percent. It will be decided in the next two to three months whether the strip will be in Madrid or Barcelona, he said today.

In Asia the company hopes to eventually build integrated resorts in Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan, Adelson said. He has sought to reverse a ban on casinos in Japan.

The company would be interested in building two properties in each of the Asian countries with each costing as much as $6 billion, Adelson said.

First-quarter earnings before interest taxes and depreciation at Sands will probably be $974 million, according to an estimate by Joseph Greff, an analyst at J.P. Morgan Securities. He increased his estimate this week from $939 million, citing better-than-expected Macau business.

Las Vegas Sands has risen 37 percent in New York trading this year. Asian unit Sands China Ltd. fell 1.3 percent to HK$29.50 at the close in Hong Kong. The Sands Cotai Central opens today with 1,800 hotel rooms and is set to expand eventually to 6,400 rooms, with stores, restaurants and meeting space.

Plowing Back

Las Vegas Sands founder Adelson said the company’s total investment may amount to as much as $15 billion in Macau, including spending on existing properties and the new location announced today in the territory, which had $34 billion in gambling revenue last year.

The casino operator aims to build Macau as a convention leisure and tourism hub after “having changed Las Vegas,” Adelson said today.

Adelson, 78, is the 11th-richest person in the world, with a net worth of $26.6 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.

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