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Hong Kong securities investigation against Las Vegas Sands concludes without taking action

Sands China Ltd., a subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands Corp., said Hong Kong’s securities regulator has concluded an investigation of the company and won’t take action.

In a statement released Sunday by the company, the Securities and Futures Commission sent confirmation on Thursday , “that the investigation has been concluded and that no further action will be taken against the company at this time.” There was no further elaboration beyond the statement.

Sands China covers the company’s casino holdings in Macau and is publicly traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Las Vegas Sands filed a similar statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Monday.

The news didn’t seem to give any boost to shares of Las Vegas Sands, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s stock price opened about 1.5 percent higher, but ended the day down $1.07, or 2.58 percent, to close at $40.46.

In March, Sands China said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that the securities commission had asked the company to produce documents for an investigation into alleged breaches of the Securities and Futures Ordinance.

Former Sands China Chief Executive Officer Steven Jacobs, who was fired by the company in 2010, raised allegations of securities violations. Jacobs has since sued the Las Vegas Sands in Clark County District Court for wrongful termination.

In his lawsuit, Jacobs alleged that Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson wanted him to use “improper leverage” against unnamed senior officials of the Macau government to help the company sell apartments at its Four Seasons Macau. Jacobs also claimed Adelson wanted him to employ a Macau attorney who held a government position.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice also opened investigations of Las Vegas Sands based on the Jacobs allegations.

“The SFC’s together with the SEC and DOJ investigations have been overhangs on Las Vegas Sands’ share-price performance for much of 2011,” JP Morgan gaming analyst Joe Greff told investors Monday. “We view the conclusion of the SFC investigation as incrementally positive to the stock and should be viewed by investors as whittling away at these regulatory overhangs.”

Las Vegas Sands operates the Sands Macau, Venetian Macau and Four Seasons Macau.

In the spring, the company will start opening 6,000 hotel rooms as part of its Cotai Central resort complex in Macau, which will include hotels operating under the Sheraton, Holiday Inn and Conrad brands but centered around the casinos operated by Las Vegas Sands.

The project is expected to give the company an even larger cut of Macau’s now-$30 billion-a-year gaming market.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871.
Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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