Nevada’s largest newspaper, The Las Vegas Review-Journal, was sold last week to a mystery buyer for $140 million. Now the buyer has been unmasked as Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. It still isn’t clear why the major Republican party donor was so concerned with maintaining his anonymity, as first reported by Dan Primack for Forbes.
Secretive billionaire Adelson buys Nevada’s largest newspaper
Adelson was the subject of rumors, some of which were written by employees at the Review-Journal itself. The paper ran a story explaining the billionaire’s links with regional Connecticut newspaper publisher Michael Schroeder, who was the only person listed on regulatory filings for the sale.
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Schroeder provided no details as to the identity of the primary buyer, nor did he explain his involvement in the sale. Adelson himself repeatedly declined to comment on the story in the past few days.
Commentators are puzzled as to why Adelson bought the paper, and why he did so anonymously. It doesn’t look like a vanity purchase, and the high price means that it is hard to say that he sees the paper as a sound investment.
Motivations behind purchase remain a mystery
One possible explanation is a search for political influence, which is particularly important in a swing state such as Nevada. If that were the case, it seems hard to imagine how Adelson would have been able to influence editorial coverage if he didn’t publicly announce that he was the buyer.
Adelson may have wanted the purchase to remain secret until after the latest GOP debate, which he hosted at his Venetian home. Whatever the motivations we are about to find out how he is going to handle Nevada’s biggest newspaper.
The billionaire has had an uneasy relationship with the press in the past, and rarely gives interviews. The worry for some commentators is that he might try to turn the Review-Journal into a platform for his right-wing views.
Of course Adelson could take a more hands-off approach, as Jeff Bezos does at The Washington Post. However that seems unlikely given the fact that he has paid a huge amount of money for a business in a financially troubled industry. Sheldon Adelson confirmed the purchase on Thursday, but did not comment on what his plans are for the paper.
The LA Review Journal reports:
The son-in-law of billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson arranged the $140 million purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Adelson’s behalf, sources confirmed Wednesday.
Patrick Dumont, who is listed on the website of Las Vegas Sands Corp. as the company’s senior vice president of finance and strategy, put together the deal at the behest of his father-in-law, the chairman and CEO of the casino operator.
Dumont, a 41-year-old from New York, in 2009 married Sivan Ochshorn, a daughter of Adelson’s wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, from a prior marriage. Sivan Ochshorn Dumont runs the Israel Hayom, which is owned by the casino mogul.
“He (Dumont) handles all the investments for the family,” said a source close to the Adelsons who was not authorized to speak on behalf of the family.
Another source familiar with the deal said Sheldon Adelson, 15th on the Forbes 400 List of Billionaires with a net worth of $24.5 billion, funded the transaction. Dumont helped create News + Media Capital Group LLC, which acquired the Review-Journal and several smaller Nevada newspapers last week from New Media Investment Corp.
A source said Dumont also led Adelson’s previous attempt to acquire the Review-Journal from former owner Stephens Media LLC before the February sale to New Media Investment. He could not be reached for comment. Sivan Ochshorn Dumont, reached at the couple’s Las Vegas home, hung up before answering a reporter’s questions Wednesday.
The full statement from Adelson can be found below:
he Adelson family has called Las Vegas home for nearly 25 years. Through our business interests here we’ve helped employ tens of thousands of people and have been honored to provide support to many of this community’s important charitable and civic organizations and causes.
Today, we are proud to announce that the Adelson family has purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal through a wholly-owned fund, as both a financial investment as well as an investment in the future of the Las Vegas community.
We understand the desire of the hard-working staff at the R-J and others in the community to know the identity of the papers new owners, and it was always our intention to publicly announce our ownership of the R-J.
This week, with each of the Republican candidates for president and the national media descending on Las Vegas for the year’s final debate, we did not want an announcement to distract from the important role Nevada continues to play in the 2016 presidential election.
Our motivation for purchasing the R-J is simple. We believe in this community and want to help make Las Vegas an even greater place to live. We believe deeply that a strong and effective daily newspaper plays a critical role in keeping our state apprised of the important news and issues we face on a daily basis.
The management team from New Media, which is currently running the R-J, will continue to oversee the operations of the publication. The family wants a journalism product that is second-to-none and will continue to invest in the paper to achieve this goal.
On behalf of our family, we wish the entire Las Vegas Valley a safe and healthy holiday season and our best wishes for 2016.
[Photo Credit: East Coast Gambler, Flickr]