Connecting the Shwartz dots

March 19, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

In November last year, this website reported how Las Vegas Sands managed to raise a stunning $2.1 billion in an amazingly short span of time, an achievement that makes one say “hmmm…” (see here)

Today we have found another piece of the puzzle that moves us closer to filling in the jigsaw on what makes Mr Adelson’s Singapore project continue to hobble along even as the other casino projects fall like ten pins.

To recap: Sands Corporation announced in November 2008 that it was going bankrupt. The alarm bells rang so loud that it awakened even the Minister Mentor who declared that Marina Sands project which was awarded to Mr Adelson’s company, would go on even as it is “under pressure.”

But at what cost? Apparently none to us taxpayers in Singapore because according to the Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry S Iswaran, no bailout money came from the Government as the development “has always been a commercial project.”

Perhaps. But in Singapore the line between the commercial and state sectors is as firm as warm butter.

And the dairy spread got a little warmer today as Las Vegas Sands announced the appointment of a Mr Jeffrey Schwartz as a member of its board of directors.

And it just so happens, according to the Private Equity Real Estate, that Mr Schwartz is a chairman and chief executive officer of Global Logistic Properties (GLP), a company the GIC recently acquired for US$1.3 billion and renamed (originally called ProLogis Asian Operations).

Now that we know GLP’s Schwartz has recently become Las Vegas Sands’ Schwartz, the next we need to ask is how Mr Schwartz got into Mr Adelson’s board of directors and what in the heck is he doing there.

Did the pumping of $2 billion into Las Vegas Sands originate from Singapore? And does Mr Schwartz’s appointment to Sands’ board have anything to do with GIC opening the valve?

If it does, is the PAP Government still of the view that there is no bailout of Sands’ by the people of Singapore (many of whom, by the way, was opposed to the project) and that the development of Marina Sands is strictly a commercial project?

Are we throwing good public money after bad? Worse, is it being used to save the face of the Government who made a very bad decision to go into the gaming industry when the industry is crumbling?

Not only is Sands’ going kaput, Donald Trump’s casino group filed for Chapter 11 a month ago, and Macau’s casinos have one leg in the grave.

And there’s no guarantee that the Marina project is going to be completed on time and on budget. After that, whether it is going to become a virile bull or a white elephant is any body’s guess.

But one thing is certain, Singaporeans will have to continue to foot the bill. $2 billion? No problem. There’s lot’s more from where it came.