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Sheldon Adelson has non-Hodgkin lymphoma, remains Sands CEO

Updated February 28, 2019 - 10:57 pm

Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson is suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma but plans to continue working through treatment.

In a statement issued late Thursday, the company said Adelson, 85, is dealing with side effects from medication he is taking for the treatment of the disease.

“These side effects have restricted his availability to travel or keep regular office hours,” the statement said. “They have not, however, prevented him from fulfilling his duties as chairman and CEO.”

The statement said the company anticipates he will return to his regular schedule at the completion of his treatment.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a form of blood cancer that can spread rapidly, especially in seniors.

Case complicated

The disclosure comes just ahead of a civil trial scheduled to begin Monday in Las Vegas.

Attorneys for a Hong Kong businessman waging a 15-year legal battle with Sands are asking a Clark County District Court judge to turn down a request that Adelson be excused from testimony.

Attorneys for Richard Suen and Round Square Company Ltd. filed a motion Feb. 22 and appeared at a hearing before Judge Rob Bare on Monday arguing Adelson should be required to testify or appear for a deposition.

Adelson testified in court in 2001 that he suffers from lumbar plexopathy, a disorder that causes severe pain along his side and hip area. He also testified that medication he uses to manage pain often makes him drowsy. He uses a motorized scooter to stay mobile.

It’s the third time since 2004 that Suen is facing off with Sands in court over claims that he provided Adelson with information and support to win a coveted concession in Macau in the early 2000s.

Clark County juries twice found in favor of Suen. In 2008, he was awarded $43.8 million, but the Nevada Supreme Court vacated the verdict in 2010 because of the amount of hearsay evidence Suen’s attorneys put into the record.

In 2013, another jury awarded Suen $70 million. However, in March 2016, the state Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in favor of Suen while reversing the jury’s decision on damages.

Las Vegas Sands has become a leader in the Macau market, building Sands Macao, The Venetian Macao, Sands Cotai Central (comprised of several hotel brands) and Parisian Macao. The company is converting some of its Cotai Strip developments into the Londoner, a British-themed resort concept.

No SEC filing

In their Feb. 22 motion, attorneys James Pisanelli and Todd Bice argued Adelson should be required to appear, particularly if he is healthy enough to run a publicly traded company.

Sands officials have said Adelson has not been in the office since around Christmas. The company has not made any SEC filings regarding Adelson’s health.

He did not participate in the company’s Jan. 23 fourth-quarter earnings conference call. At the time, Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldstein told analysts listening to the call that Adelson was “under the weather.”

Judgment call

In Suen’s court filing, attorneys argue Adelson should testify, citing what a letter from Adelson’s doctor doesn’t say.

“It does not say that Adelson is incapable of serving in his capacity as chairman and CEO of a publicly traded company,” the opposition motion says. “It does not say that there are any restrictions upon him traveling. It does not say that there are any restrictions on him holding meetings. It does not say that there are any restrictions upon him making business decisions, decisions that, at his level, can impact the lives of thousands of employees and shareholders.”

In a transcript of Monday’s proceedings before Bare, Sands attorney Richard Sauber said the company has no expectation that Adelson would be a witness in the trial.

Benjamin Edwards, an associate professor at UNLV’s Boyd Law School, said the company is not required to make an SEC filing for health concerns. Edwards said the level of public disclosure is a corporate board judgment call.

“If a CEO has a colonoscopy and it reveals some troubling information, there’s no automatic disclosure requirement to the market,” Edwards said. “A corporate executive can consult with their physician about how to deal with any health challenge without it immediately being something that they have to disclose to their board of directors and to their shareholders.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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