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LAS VEGAS-Las Vegas Sands Corp., which halted most of its construction work on Monday, has priced a public offering of 181.8 million common shares at $5.50 each as part of its plan to raise $2.14 billion in new capital and avoid defaulting on its credit agreements this quarter. To add to the $1 billion the offering would bring in, the company says it will sell 5.25 million preferred shares, and warrants for an additional 87.5 million common shares, to the family of Sheldon Adelson, the company’s principal stockholder, chairman and chief executive, at $6 per share. Adelson personally loaned the company $475 million last month so that it could get to this point without a default.

The new deal with the Adelson family requires it convert the 6.5% convertible senior notes due 2013 into shares of the company’s common stock at a conversion price equal to the public offering price of $5.50 per share. That would normally require approval of stockholders according to the Shareholder Approval Policy of the NYSE but LV Sands is using an exception in the policy–that any delay would seriously jeopardize the offering as well as the financial viability of the company–to avoid the extra step.

On Monday, one week after revealing that it was in danger of defaulting on $5.2 billion in credit facilities secured by its US operations, the company announced the halt of construction at its active development sites worldwide along with weaker-than-expected third quarter results. In the US, the work stoppage includes the $600-million, 50-story condo tower it has been constructing on the Las Vegas Strip, in front of its new Palazzo resort, as well as everything except the casino at its $700-million, 124-acre Sands Bethlehem development in Pennsylvania.

Internationally, it includes its $11-billion Cotai Strip development in Macau, putting at risk its control over the entire project–including the properties it has already built–if it cannot extend the construction deadlines in its development agreement with the Macau government and obtain additional financing. Macau chief executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah said yesterday that the Macau government will not be assisting Las Vegas Sands Corp. through its financial situation.

“I am not worried about any casino closing down as the government can take over the business temporarily until the economy improves,” Ho said.

The offering more than doubles the number of outstanding shares, diluting their value for current shareholders, including Adelson. Shares of Las Vegas Sands Corp. ended the trading day Tuesday at $5.34, down $2.66 (33%) on the day. Little more than one year ago the company’s share price was $144.

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