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Stock price dip wreaks havoc on net worth of LV Sands Corp.’s chief exec

A New York compensation consulting firm estimated the net worth of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Adelson has fallen by more than $16.6 billion this year, the largest amount of any of the major CEOs tracked by Forbes magazine.

Adelson, 75, controls a little less than 70 percent of Las Vegas Sands Corp. personally and through family trusts. Forbes ranked Adelson as America’s third-richest person last year, but dropped him to 15th place earlier this month based on the declining stock price of Las Vegas Sands.

"He’s in the gaming business. He’s gamed it all the way up and down," Pearl Meyer, a senior managing director of Steven Hall & Partners told ABC News. The company tracked Adelson’s investments in Las Vegas Sands between Dec. 31 and Oct. 17.

Las Vegas Sands’ stock price hit a high of $148 a year ago. On Tuesday, shares of the company closed at $4.95 on the New York Stock Exchange, down 85 cents or 14.66 percent.

While Adelson’s net worth on paper has fallen, financial sources estimate he has some $3.5 billion in available funds from other investments.

The investment losses by Adelson topped those of fellow CEOs Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch, Steve Ballmer, Larry Ellison and Jeff Bezos. After Adelson, Buffett, chief of Berkshire Hathaway, lost the most, nearly $9.6 billion.

Adelson loaned Las Vegas Sands $475 million on Oct. 1 through convertible senior notes to help the company meet liquidity requirements and avoid the triggering of a $5 billion loan covenant. On Friday, the company announced he would participate in a capital-raising program.

"It doesn’t impact the company directly and it doesn’t impact the wherewithal of the company," Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Bill Lerner said of the decline in the value of Adelson’s net worth. "We suspect the Adelson family has additional liquidity that we would anticipate being used in part to aid the equity in Las Vegas Sands going forward."

Adelson founded the company and took it public in December 2004 at a value of $794 million. In March 2006, Adelson and his family participated in a secondary stock offering, selling 55 million shares at a set price of $50.25. The proceeds netted Adelson more than $2.76 billion, the largest common stock offering ever in the gaming sector.

Despite the drop in Las Vegas Sands’ stock price, Lerner said the company is not a hostile takeover target. Adelson’s controlling stake could block any unfriendly offer.

Meanwhile, analysts await the company’s third-quarter earnings release. No date has been set. Some on Wall Street wonder if moves will be undertaken to shore up the company, such as halting or slowing some of the company’s massive construction projects in Asia, including $12 billion on the Cotai Strip and the $4 billion Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Las Vegas Sands is spending $675 million on a casino in Bethlehem, Pa., and $600 million on a Strip high-rise condominium project.

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

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