Apr 04, 2016

    Ex-partner gets Macau court nod to sue Las Vegas Sands


    A MACAU court has ruled that a former business partner of Las Vegas Sands Corp, the world's biggest casino company, can proceed with a lawsuit seeking billions in damages for breaking the terms of their previous agreement.

    In a filing made on March 16, a court in the Chinese southern territory denied Las Vegas Sands a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. It alleges that the company, headed by United States billionaire Sheldon Adelson, misused trade secrets obtained during their venture.

    The former partner, a company called Asian American which is headed by Taiwanese businessman Marshall Hao, is asking for just over 70 per cent of Las Vegas Sands' profits from 2004 to 2022.

    Even before taking into account future profits, that would exceed US$8 billion (S$10.8 billion) on reported profits to 2015, according to Reuters calculations.

    Las Vegas Sands, which has taken legal action in Nevada and Macau to stop the suit, said: "The company has consistently maintained that this case has no merit. We have confidence that ultimately the Macau judicial process will reach the same conclusion."

    Mr Hao's lawyer Jorge Menezes said the court had not yet set a date but a hearing should take place in coming months.

    The partnership of Las Vegas Sands and Asian American submitted a bid for a gaming concession in 2001 in Macau, which has since become the world's largest gambling hub.

    During the process, Las Vegas Sands switched partners and teamed up with Hong Kong group Galaxy Entertainment. That venture went on to clinch a licence in the former Portuguese colony over a decade ago.

    Asian American claims that Las Vegas Sands terminated its joint venture and then made a near identical bid submission with Galaxy, using details that were exclusive to their previous partnership.

    "We are delighted and look forward to see this dispute adjudicated on the merits for the first time. We have walked a long and difficult path to reach this goal," Mr Hao said.

    For Las Vegas Sands, which faces a number of lawsuits in Macau including unlawful dismissal claims, the case could bring unwanted attention as the territory's government decides whether to extend the six operators' licences, as they start to expire in 2020.