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Appointment of Adelson as Sands China’s Chief Raises Serious Issues

Source: EPA

With the very effective Edward Tracy resigning as Sands China’s president and chief executive, the company needed a big man to fill his shoes. Last week, the Las Vegas Sands subsidiary went for the very biggest, naming LVS founder, president, CEO and resident visionary Sheldon Adelson to replace Tracy, Forbes said.

Putting the 81-year-old billionaire’s name at the top of Sands China’s executive chart may assure continuity, since most observers believe Adelson, already Sands China’s chairman, and his team in Las Vegas call most of the shots for LVS properties in Asia, the website said.

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Nevertheless, Adelson’s appointment raises some appropriately big issues that go beyond the company and the Macau casino business, according to Forbes.

The question is how much of an eye can Adelson have on Sands China from Las Vegas. Unlike Tracy, Adelson won’t be living in Macau. He won’t be on the ground to see and feel the pulse of the place. Of course, there are plenty of Sands China executives on location to give Adelson their Macau pulse readings. But without one that Adelson and the board of directors trust enough to designate as CEO, there’s a greater likelihood Adelson won’t defer to them, the report said.

Sitting at the top of Sands China, it will be harder for Adelson to deny detailed knowledge of what happens in Macau. Of course, optimists can say that the company has improved its business practices in Macau enough to be comfortable with making Adelson directly responsible for Macau, the website said.

Adelson will also have to handle Macau government relations as the expiration of gaming licenses approaches. Adelson has ruffled feathers with government officials and publicly accused Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on of reneging on a deal with the previous administration. However, sources say Chui likes the American billionaire, according to Forbes.

Adelson wearing yet another hat also raises a more general question about corporate governance and executive pay. If the CEO job is so hard and therefore deserving a lofty pay packet, how can the same person also serve as president or chairman of the board of directors? Combining the CEO and chairman role is especially galling since the board of directors is legally responsible for overseeing the CEO and other top executives on behalf of shareholders, in effect, putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop guard force, Forbes said.

Meanwhile, after spending millions of dollars to help elect a Republican House and Senate, Capitol Hill sources report Las Vegas gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson received a private briefing with Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee in the second week of January, said.

The meeting sends a strong signal that the billionaire, who is one of the most generous contributors to Republican candidates and campaigns—ever, will not retreat away from his desire to outlaw legal and regulated Internet gaming by the states, the report said.

Sources familiar with Adelson’s lobbying describe the meeting as both a strategy session and an update for the gambling mogul, the website said.

It was reported that Adelson spent and donated more than $90 million toward GOP candidates and causes in 2014, said.

Adelson, the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, a $14 billion-a-year gaming conglomerate, has pledged to “spend whatever it takes” to get Congress to pass a federal ban on online gambling, but he failed to make the tape as the last session closed, the report said.



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