A trial for a $12 billion lawsuit brought against Las Vegas Sands (LVS) in Macau earlier this year by Marshall Hao’s Asian American Entertainment Corp. (AAEC) has been delayed until September 16, 2020.
The proceedings were originally slated to start last month. But the Taiwanese company filed a motion to reschedule, which was granted by the Macau Judicial Court, according to a Sands filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published last Friday.
At issue is Hao’s claim that AAEC is entitled to 70 percent of LVS’ Macau profits since the company entered the Chinese territory in 2002. That stems from a now defunct partnership formed between the two firms in 2001. AAEC claims it had an agreement with Sands to jointly apply for a gaming license on the peninsula in 2001 after regulators announced the breakup of Stanley Ho’s gambling monopoly in the region.
In early September, AAEC’s request to boost the amount of its initial claim was granted by the Macau Judicial Court, but the LVS SEC filing does not mention the new amount being sought by the plaintiff.
On September 17, 2019, the US Defendants appealed the decision granting AAEC’s request,” according to the filing. “On September 26, 2019, the Macao Judicial Court accepted that appeal, and it is currently pending before the Macao Second Instance Court. On September 10, 2019, AAEC moved to reschedule the trial of the Macao Action, which had been scheduled to begin on September 12, 2019.”
The action, which is now expected to head to trial on Sept. 16, 2020, is currently in preliminary stages.
In previously released court documents, Hao says he told representatives from Sands that a property similar to the company’s Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip would be a hit in the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR). The Venetian Macao opened in 2007 and is one of five LVS properties on the peninsula today.
AAEC didn’t get in on that action. LVS dissolved the companies’ partnership in 2002, and Hao has remained steadfast in his belief that his company was cheated out of an opportunity to become a player in the world’s largest gaming hub.
In 2007, he filed a suit in Nevada, alleging breach of contract. But that case was thrown out three years later. In 2012, he launched a claim in a Macau court for $375 million, which was increased to $5 billion in 2014. That amount was escalated to $12 billion in September, as the businessman’s lawyers believe that amount is roughly 70 percent of LVS’ Macau profits since 2002.
Last week, Sands said it generated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $755 million on revenue of $2.11 billion in Macau during the third quarter.
Differing Time Frames
The LVS SEC filing notes that AAEC is looking to recoup a percentage of the Las Vegas company’s Macau earnings from 2004 through 2018, while reserving the right to extend that time frame through 2022. That’s the year in which all six Macau license holders will renew their permits.
LVS “management has determined that based on proceedings to date, it is currently unable to determine the probability of the outcome of this matter or the range of reasonably possible loss, if any,” according to the filing. “The Company intends to defend this matter vigorously.”