Sheldon Adelson Back on Top With the Singapore Marina Bay Sands

Posted on July 6th, 2010

Right- we are off to Singapore and the new Marina Bay Sands! Sheldon Adelson- the casino magnate who burned through more cash than anyone else in the Credit Crunch (over $US35 billion on the latest estimates) is looking pretty again following the opening of his new HUGE gambling and entertainment complex in the Island city state of Singapore: The Marina Bay Sands.

Looking over the old colonial trading route of the Straits of Malacca, the 1.2 hectare Sky Park sits ontop of 3 55-storey towers. As Adelson comments himself: “This surpasses anything I’ve done. It’s the best by the width of an ocean.”

The numbers are scary. It cost $US 5.7bn, It´s nearly a million sq metres big and its already pulling in record punters. The Marina Bay Sands is Adelson´s biggest single hotel and casino bet by his company, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and boasts 2600 rooms, a 600-table casino, 1500 slot machines, 2 theatres, art worth $US50m, 300 shops , a museum, an art gallery and a convention centre for up to 45,000 delegates. Phew…. And you thought the casinos in Macau were out of this world.

The Sky Park has gardens, a pool and a restaurant that seem to float in mid-air. Adelson hoovered up cash faster than anyone in history by building hotels, casinos and convention centres in America and Asia. His model was to build the properties, keep the casinos and sell off the retail space to pay off the loans. And things were going well until the Credit Crunch when the wheels almost fell off his model. He was at one time the 6-richest man on the planet, worth a staggering $US 40billion. At one point he was making over $US20 a day.

But then he started losing money faster than anyone else as well. Shares in the Sands Corporation droppped like a stone from around $150 to $1, wiping out most of Adelson’s wealth. At one stage, he was bleeding around $100m a day – que pobre!.

He had to shore up his company with $1bn of his own cash in loans and equity sales to prevent it going belly up. And he had to water down his stake from 70 per cent to about 50 per cent, just keeping control from the banks and other investors.

But things are again looking up. The Singapore Govt. is right behind him as they try and lure more tourists into the city and to get rid of its prim and proper “no chewing gum here” reputation.

As well as the new Marina Bay Sands, the City State has another casino licenced and is also on the F1 circuit. Ministers are hoping to attract 17 million visitors a year and triple tourism revenue to $36bn by 2015, raising GDP by 1.6 per cent.

Analysts already estimate that the casino at Marina Bay Sands is making over $US3.6m a day: an annual profit of $US1.3bn. And the Sands Corporation made its first profit in two years in Q1 – $17m, versus a $US35m loss last year.

You wouldn´t bet against him pulling it off.

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