Adelson Family Unlikely to Unload Las Vegas Sands Stock in Bulk Following Sheldon’s Death

Posted on: January 12, 2021, 12:35h. 

Last updated on: January 12, 2021, 01:24h.

Former Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson died today of treatment complications for non-Hodkinson’s lymphoma. News of his death is having a negligible impact on LVS stock.

Miriam Adelson
Miriam Adelson, right, seen here with White House lawyer Rudy Giuliani in 2016. She’s not expected to be a seller of LVS stock following the death of her husband, Sheldon Adelson. (Image: AP)

After dropping this morning on the first reports of Adelson’s passing, the gaming equity is modestly higher in late trading. Relative steadiness in shares of the world’s largest casino operator by market capitalization is a sign market participants were long aware of Adelson’s declining health and are appreciating a steady succession plan.

Industry veteran Robert Goldstein, 64, assumed the roles of interim chairman and the chief executive officer when his boss went in for another round of medical care last week.

Another reason for the flattish action in LVS stock today could be the lack of probability that Adelson’s family, namely his widow, Dr. Miriam Adelson, will be large sellers of the equity.

With regard to the stock, Mr. Adelson only directly owns ~9 percent of the company’s shares, with the majority of the family’s ~57 percent ownership either owned by his widow, Dr. Miriam Adelson, and in family trusts,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Thomas Allen in a note to clients today.

In mid-2019, the late Adelson engaged in a series of equity transfers, ranging in size from 276,1000 shares to 3.65 million shares, moving stock he owned into a trust in his wife’s name. Those transactions resulted in Miriam’s net worth vaulting to $22 billion in June 2019, at the time making her the richest Israeli.

Adelson, along with Steve Wynn, was widely viewed as one the pioneers of the integrated resort structure that moved the industry from dependence on gaming revenue to generating prodigious amounts of cash flow from conventions, dining, and entertainment. He was 87.

Family Ties, Reasons to Stick with LVS Stock

Sands isn’t a family company in the truest sense of the term. But there are family ties atop the Venetian operator’s executive suite, providing another calming effect for investors.

CFO Patrick Dumont is Adelson’s son-in-law. In 2009, Dumont married Sivan Ochshorn, Miriam’s daughter from a previous marriage. In addition to his duties as CFO, he handles the family’s finances and orchestrated Adelson’s $140 million acquisition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2015. Allen, the Morgan Stanley analyst, believes it’s possible Dumont will eventually occupy either the chairman or CEO positions.

“Over time, we would not be surprised to see a member of the Adelson family take over one of these roles, specifically with CFO Patrick Dumont a logical potential candidate,” said the analyst.

Allen says the Adelson family rushing to unload shares is also unlikely. That’s because they want to be positioned for a rebound in Macau and restoration of the dividend their patriarch previously championed. The payout was suspended last year as the coronavirus pandemic led to plunging Macau revenue and sapped profitability. But analysts are speculating Sands can restart the dividend at lower levels this year.

What’s Next for LVS

Amid Adelson’s passing, there’s a lot on the Sands plate. Speculation is intensifying that a sale of the Venetian, Palazzo, and convention center on the Strip is nearing, and there are rumors regarding a possible takeover of Australia’s embattled Crown Resorts. Additionally, LVS was preparing a lobbying blitz on Texas lawmakers prior to Adelson’s death.

One thing experts agree on is that regime change at Sands brings an opportunity for the company to finally enter the online gaming and sports betting spaces. Adelson previously funded groups opposing internet gambling, saying it leads to large losses for participants.

Last week, reports surfaced that Goldstein is holding early-stage discussions that could lead to partnerships, or the operator creating its own sports wagering platform.

Roundhill Investments founder Will Hershey told that with favorable regulatory tailwinds and a still-sluggish recovery in Las Vegas, LVS is feeling compelled to evaluate iGaming and sports betting.