LV Sands completes offering

Las Vegas Sands Corp. completed its stock offering Friday, raising roughly $2.1 billion, but reducing Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Adelson’s controlling stake in the company that owns The Venetian and Palazzo to just above 51 percent.

Before the stock sale, Adelson, 75, who founded the company in the 1990s and took Las Vegas Sands public in December 2004, controlled some 65 percent of the gaming company personally and through various family trusts.

Las Vegas Sands sold 200 million common shares for $5.50 apiece for a total of $1.1 billion. The deal included 18.2 million shares purchased by the underwriters, Goldman Sachs. Las Vegas Sands also sold 5.2 million units consisting of one share of preferred stock plus a warrant to buy stock at $6 a share. The units sold for $100 each.

Adelson and his wife, Miriam, bought 5.25 million shares of preferred stock and warrants at the same terms as the public offering. The warrants included in the public offering and sale to the Adelsons could raise another $1.04 billion. The couple also converted $475 million in notes they purchased last month into 86.4 million shares of common stock at a conversion price of $5.50 apiece.

The actions increased the number of shares outstanding on the New York Stock Exchange from 355 million to 537.29 million. Shares of the company closed at $6.11 Friday, up 53 cents, or 9.5 percent. The stock has traded between $4.32 and $122.96 during the past 52 weeks. Las Vegas Sands now has a market capitalization of $3.28 billion, down from $51 billion in October 2007.

Along with paying down debt, Las Vegas Sands said the proceeds from the capital program would help finance its construction and development projects.

On Monday, the company said it would slow the pace of its development and suspend construction at its $600 million St. Regis condominium tower on the Strip and two sites on the Cotai Strip in Macau. Las Vegas Sands will focus available capital on completing the $5 billion Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and the Sands Bethlehem casino in Bethlehem, Pa.

Last week, Las Vegas Sands said it was in danger of defaulting on $5.2 billion in credit facilities.

Las Vegas Sands’ problems represent a stunning reversal for Adelson, who had been considered America’s third-richest person until the company lost roughly 95 percent of its stock market value over the past 11 months.

Credit Suisse analyst Scott Barry wrote in a research report Thursday that Las Vegas Sands has “enough liquidity to fund their project pipeline and maintain compliance with debt covenants in the U.S. through at least 2009.”

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, Las Vegas Sands said its board formed a committee to evaluate the company’s decision-making and resolve disputes between Adelson and senior management. The filing said the committee was formed to address “a loss of confidence” by managers in how the company is being run.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871.

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