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Howard Stutz

LV Sands board member quits

16 March 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- A Las Vegas Sands Corp. board member resigned Monday because he disagreed with last weekend's forced resignation of former company President Bill Weidner.

The casino operator revealed the resignation in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

James Purcell, 78, a retired attorney and a Las Vegas Sands board member since July 2004, said in a letter to the company that it was wrong to force Weidner's resignation without "a full and open discussion of the potential consequences of the series of action that were planned."

Weidner, president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands since 1995, resigned Sunday and will be replaced by Michael Leven, a longtime hospitality industry executive and a Las Vegas Sands board member.

In his letter, Purcell said he was informed by board member Irwin Seigel that Leven and board member Charles Forman were meeting with Weidner to seek his resignation.

"I expressed to Mr. Seigel my reservations as to the wisdom and timing of the discussions then in progress and of the proposed actions," Purcell wrote.

In its filing, the company said the replacement of Weidner "was proper and appropriate under the circumstances."

Las Vegas Sands announced Friday that Jeffrey Schwartz, chairman and co-founder of Global Logistic Properties, a venture that controls the largest platform of logistic facilities in Asia, was elected to replace Purcell.

Weidner, 63, and Las Vegas Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson had been feuding for months over the direction of the company.

Weidner characterized the bickering "as a junkyard-dog fight" when he spoke to an investment forum in Las Vegas in November.

That month, when Las Vegas Sands completed a $2.14 billion recapitalization, the board set up a committee to mediate the corporate disputes.

Adelson said this week that Weidner's departure wouldn't hurt the company.

Shares of Las Vegas Sands closed Friday at $2.27 on the New York Stock Exchange, up 50 cents, or 28.25 percent.