New ownership on the Strip

Sands $6.25B sale of The Venetian to Apollo and Vici now completed; company to focus on Asia and digital

Reading time 3:56 min

Las Vegas Sands has completed the sale of The Venetian Resort assets (The Venetian, Palazzo and Venetian Expo) for approximately $6.25 billion, the gaming and hospitality giant announced on Wednesday. The Strip properties now belong to their new owners: affiliates of Apollo Global Management and VICI Properties.

The proceeds from the billionaire transaction are set to enhance liquidity and support investment in current markets and future development projects, the company said in a press statement. Sands was financially advised by Goldman Sachs & Co. during the deal.

“The opening of The Venetian more than 20 years ago represents the beginning of the company’s success,” said Las Vegas Sands Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Goldstein. “The property, and most importantly, the people who represent it every day will always remain indelible parts of our history.”

According to the CEO, following the completion of the sale, the company’s strong balance sheet and solid portfolio of Integrated Resorts in Macau and Singapore position Sands “to experience a new era of opportunity and growth.”

Sands CEO Robert Goldstein

“The top priorities for our company include heavily reinvesting in our portfolio in Asia while at the same time pursuing new land-based development opportunities and executing our long-term strategy for participating in the digital marketplace,” Goldstein added.

The long-term investment strategy for Asia has been highlighted by a series of recent announcements, including a $1 billion reinvestment plan at Marina Bay Sands, in Singapore. The news was confirmed last month by Goldstein in a call with investors: Sands will undergo an extensive upgrade of all hotel rooms and suites in Towers 1 and 2 of the hotel, set to “significantly enhance” the company’s appeal to premium clients.

The company has also completed a $2.2 billion renovation of The Londoner casino resort in Macau, which will include additional offerings such as The Londoner Arena, a 6,000-seat arena set to open this year. “We will continue to place a premium on growing our industry-leading resorts in Asia,” said Patrick Dumont, the company’s president and chief operating officer.

The Londoner Macau

But despite Sands now having sold its iconic Venetian properties, Goldstein said in a statement he still believes in the future of Las Vegas, as the world-famous gambling hub bounces back from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Las Vegas is continually evolving and is always able to rebound from challenging events like the pandemic and the global financial crisis,” he said. “We have no doubt its importance as an international leisure and business tourism destination will only grow in the future as the city continues to innovate and introduce additional attractions and experiences for its visitors.”

The company is also set to maintain its corporate headquarters in Vegas, according to a press statement. Moreover, it will remain “active” in the community. “The foundation of this company was built in Las Vegas, and even though the overall size of the organization here will be smaller, it is important to each of us that we continue to strongly support our community,” said Dumont.

The billionaire deal between Sands, Apollo and Vici was first announced in March 2021, and under its terms, Apollo is paying $2.25 billion, while real estate investment trust Vici is paying $4 billion in total.

Vici is acquiring the resort’s land as a real estate investment trust. Meanwhile, Apollo, a New York-based private investment company, has purchased the property’s cash flow and operations, and is also set to pay Vici rent under terms of the transaction.

CEO of The Venetian Resort George Markantonis and the executive leadership team are set to continue to lead operations under Apollo, which he described as “an exciting opportunity to build on our past successes while capturing future opportunities.”

Customers will see “very few differences” in the operation of the property, Markantonis told Review-Journal in an interview. Moreover, he confirmed the workforce and the entire leadership team “remains intact.” “We are changing nothing except the excitement of potential additional amenities under our new ownership with the infusion of capital into the property,” he stated.

In terms of workforce, all 8,000 Venetian employees will keep their existing jobs without a need to reapply, with town hall meetings with workers to be conducted next week to discuss improvements in benefits. Seniority for all team members will be retained

Apollo officials had previously said there would be a focus on diversity under their management, anticipating that five of the board members of The Venetian will be women and “several of them” racial and ethnic minorities.

Review-Journal also received confirmation that The Venetian’s Grazie Rewards loyalty program will remain in place, with additional customer benefits on the horizon, plus expected improvements for food and beverage, entertainment and The Venetian Expo convention center.

Rendering for MSG Sphere at The Venetian

Entertainment is set to take a center role under Apollo’s management: the company is partnering with Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. to develop a $1.9 billion MSG Sphere at The Venetian venue, expected to open in 2023. A partially finished 43-story tower, known as St. Regis, is still in progress, and Apollo is yet to determine its use going forward.

The billionaire The Venetian Resort transaction was approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission last week, greenlighted by the regulator 4-0 in a meeting held last Thursday. 

Commissioners added a condition granting the regulator an option to call former CEO Leon Black -who resigned nearly a year ago after it was disclosed he had associations with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein- forward for questioning should he attempt to nominate himself to the firm’s board of directors.

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