Las Vegas Sands Corp agreed an undisclosed out-of-court-settlement with Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen Thursday on what was to be the second day of the third trial in a 15-year legal battle between the two parties.
Suen — who says he arranged crucial meetings with Chinese officials for LVS in 2001 that led to the company’s licensing in Macau — has long argued he was offered a $5 million “success fee” if his introductions led to the establishment of a casino in the enclave, plus 2 percent of the casino’s earnings for the duration of its license.
LVS has always argued that Suen’s actions did not lead directly to the eventual licensing of the Sands Macao and that the advice he offered the company was “useless.”
No More Appeals
On Wednesday, Suen’s lawyer John O’Malley said his client was asking for $346.9 million — based on a projected $17.1 billion in profits from the time the license was granted in 2002 to its expiration in 2022. Sands attorney Richard Sauber said he deserved no more than $3.76 million. The settlement is likely to be somewhere in the middle of these two wildly divergent figures.
Although the dollars are confidential, we’re very pleased,” O’Malley told AP outside the Las Vegas courtroom. “This settlement completely resolves the litigation. There will be no more appeals.”
Suen won a breach-of-contract ruling in 2008 and was awarded $44 million. LVS appealed, which backfired. In 2013, a Nevada jury awarded Suen $70 million. LVS appealed that judgment to the Nevada Supreme Court, which upheld the ruling in favor of Suen but reversed the jury’s decision. This week’s trial was held purely to decide the amount of compensation Suen was entitled to.
Rise of Macau
In the absence of a contract, the three trials have focused on the concept of guanxi, which describes the tacit mutual commitments, trust, and reciprocity that are the foundation of Chinese business relationships.
At the time Suen was consulting for LVS, Macau was considering breaking the decades long gambling monopoly held by Stanley Ho and opening its casino market up to foreign operators.
In 2002, LVS was one of six companies licensed to offer casino gaming in the enclave. In 2004, the company opened the Sands Macau opened LVS boss Sheldon Adelson made his $265 million investment back in one year.
Soon Macau surpassed Las Vegas as the world’s biggest gambling hub and LVS’ investments there, and in Singapore, has helped it grow into the wealthiest casino operator in the world.