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LAS VEGAS-William Weidner has resigned as president, COO and board member of Las Vegas Sands Corp. after 13 years with the company. Weidner resigned a couple of days after being told he would be replaced by board member Michael Leven, according to an SEC filing made Tuesday morning. The change is effective on April 1.

In his resignation letter, Weidner referenced “outstanding differences…about the management of the company” with its chairman, chief executive and majority shareholder, Sheldon Adelson. The internal conflict first came to light in a November SEC filing that mentioned the creation of an executive committee to, among other things, resolve disagreements among management.

“The board of directors adopted these measures to address governance concerns raised by the Senior Management Members, address a number of outstanding differences between our CEO and other senior management members, and in response to a loss of confidence by certain senior management members in the management of the company and our governance process,” states the filing.

At a forum for investors one week after the filing Weidner described the back-and-forth regarding the differences as a “junkyard dog fight,” according to published reports. “The board wanted to have more involvement in the process and we welcomed that,” he is quoted as saying. “We could use more financial brainpower in the process as well.”

Weidner, 62, also reportedly said the company was mistaken in not raising needed capital more quickly to remain in compliance with its debt covenants. “It was a matter of robust debate within the organization,” he is quoted as saying. “It was pretty much a monumental screw-up.”

Brad Stone, who serves as president of global operations and construction for Las Vegas Sands, and Rob Goldstein, a senior vice president with the company, both also worked with Weidner at Pratt Hotel Corp. At least one analyst has speculated that they may be the next to go.

Leven, 70, has been on the board of directors since August 2004 and will remain a board member. Currently CEO of Georgia Aquarium, Leven was in the hotel industry for most of his career. From 1995 to 2006, Leven was founder, chairman, chief executive and president of U.S. Franchise Systems, Inc., which developed and franchised Microtel Inns & Suites and Hawthorn Suites hotel brand. Prior to that, Leven was president and chief operating officer of Holiday Inn Worldwide, president of Days Inn of America, and president of Americana Hotels.

Las Vegas Sands opened the $2-billion Palazzo resort on the Las Vegas Strip about one year ago and this year will open a $743-million resort in Pennsylvania and a $5.4-billion resort in Macau. Other projects have been suspended including the condo tower in front of the Palazzo (pictured) as the company conserves cash flow in the down economy.

Shares of Las Vegas Sands shed more than $0.35 on Monday to close at $1.42 after hitting a 52-week low of $1.41 earlier in the session. Today, in afternoon trading, shares are up $0.26 at $1.68 on double average volume.


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