Las Vegas Sands Said to Consider Special Dividend Payment

Las Vegas Sands Corp., the casino company controlled by Sheldon Adelson, will consider a special dividend or stock buyback at a board meeting late this month, according to a person close to the company.

A dividend or buyback would further Adelson’s stated goal of returning cash to shareholders of Las Vegas-based Sands, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The company had $2.51 billion in cash at year end.

Sands, the largest U.S.-based casino company, paid $3.09 billion in dividends last year, including a $2.75-a-share special payment in December, according to its annual report. Adelson, 79, who owns about 52 percent of Sands stock, collected $1.62 billion.

“It is gratifying that we have now built our business and cash flows and strengthened our balance sheet to a degree that we were able to return such a substantial sum while retaining sufficient liquidity to fund our promising growth opportunities,” Adelson, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, said on a January conference call.

Las Vegas Sands rose 1.9 percent to $55.99 yesterday in New York. The stock has gained 21 percent this year, compared with an 11 percent advance for the S&P 500.

Gambling revenue in Macau, where Las Vegas Sands owns casinos, rose 25 percent in March, more than double the February pace, according to Bloomberg Industries research. Revenue on the Las Vegas Strip, where the company operates the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino, rose 31 percent in February, the latest period available, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Macau Resort

Sands is building a new resort in Macau, while considering opportunities in South Korea, Japan and Spain. Adelson, who ranks 16th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with an estimated net worth of $26.8 billion, said on the January call that the company will only pursue projects that generate returns of 20 percent.

Investors oppose the proposed Madrid development, Harry Curtis, a Nomura Securities analyst, wrote in an Oct. 17 report, citing its multibillion dollar cost.

In a trial under way in Nevada state court, businessman Richard Suen has sued Las Vegas Sands, claiming he is owed $328 million for helping the company win a license in 2002 to operate casinos in Macau.

In testimony this month, Adelson credited his company’s vision and expertise, not Suen’s efforts.

Adelson and his wife Miriam, were the largest donors to political action committees in last year’s presidential election, contributing $92.8 million to conservative campaigns, according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.

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