A lawyer for Sheldon Adelson the founder of United States-based casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp, says his client is too ill to testify in a forthcoming court hearing concerning whether a Chinese consultant helped Mr Adelson get his current Macau gaming licence, Bloomberg reports.
The news agency, in a report posted online on Friday, quoted the lawyer, James Jimmerson, as telling a court in the U.S. state of Nevada that Mr Adelson (pictured in a file photo) has been absent from his office since December. The executive is being treated for cancer, said the company.
“Mr Adelson is still dealing with certain side effects from medication he is taking for the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said in a statement to media outlets. “These side effects have restricted his availability to travel or keep regular office hours. They have not, however, prevented him from fulfilling his duties as chairman and CEO.”
The Bloomberg report said the 85-year-old chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands had been expected to testify soon in a further hearing of a matter that has been going through the courts – on and off – for 15 years. Las Vegas Sands’ current Macau gaming rights are due to expire in 2022.
The case pits Mr Adelson against Richard Suen, a consultant who says he helped Las Vegas Sands obtain a licence to run casinos in Macau.
Las Vegas Sands runs casinos in the United States, Macau and Singapore.
A Nevada court decided in favour of Mr Suen in 2013, but a higher court later said the evidence on which the verdict was based was insufficient, and in 2016 ordered a new hearing of the case.
Bloomberg quoted Mr Jimmerson as telling the Nevada District Court on Monday regarding the likelihood of Mr Adelson not being immediately available for the latest hearing in the matter: “It wasn’t until January 15 that I learned of the dire nature of Mr. Adelson’s condition; health.”
Mr Suen’s lawyers have pressed for Mr Adelson to testify.
The judge said Mr Adelson would be exempted from testifying if his doctor gave sworn testimony that his patient was too ill.
Mr Adelson usually takes part in company earnings conference calls, but missed one on January 23.
Las Vegas Sands president and chief operating officer Robert Goldstein had said during that conference call: “Sheldon is not joining us on the call today. He’s a little bit under the weather.”
Mr Goldstein added: “He’s taking medications that make him a bit drowsy.”
Bloomberg reported that Mr Adelson had for some time suffered from a condition called peripheral neuropathy, that makes it difficult for him to walk.
“The recent news regarding Mr Adelson’s health should not cause investor alarm with respect to Las Vegas Sands or Sands China,” said brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd in a Friday note. “The companies both have strong management teams and there is an internal succession contingency in place in the event of Mr Adelson’s inability to perform his duties as chairman and CEO.”
Mr Adelson has high-level political contacts in the U.S. – including U.S. President Donald Trump – and contacts overseas, that some observers think are of major benefit to his company as it explores fresh markets. Las Vegas Sands is interested in acquiring a casino gaming licence for the newly-liberalised Japan market.
Las Vegas Sands Corp announced in January that it made a loss of US$170 million in the fourth quarter of last year, having made a profit of US$1.21 billion a year earlier. The change was mainly due to a change in tax expenses, the firm said.
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"We hope that the earnings power of that building [the Londoner], when we are finished, can rival that of the Venetian [Macao]"
Senior vice president of investor relations at casino operator Las Vegas Sands