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Rod Smith

Former Sands Exec to Start Own Company

27 February 2004

LAS VEGAS -- The No. 2 executive and jack-of -all-trades for Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson on Thursday confirmed he is resigning to start a new company that he called "the right opportunity at the right time."

The comment from the executive, David Friedman, came after he suddenly announced his resignation from the company on Wednesday.

Friedman said in a memorandum to workers at The Venetian, which is owned by the Sands, that he is "starting a new company with two fabulous partners," but declined to disclose any details.

"I am grateful for the opportunity at The Venetian to work with Sheldon Adelson and the great team to develop the premier property in Las Vegas. Hopefully, I can take some of the same skills (I used building The Venetian) with me to this new venture," he said.

Deutsche Bank analyst Andrew Zarnett said Friedman's departure will not leave a significant hole in The Venetian's management team.

"While I'm sure he'll be missed, The Venetian has a deep development team and there are a number of other (executives) who can fill that role," he said.

Friedman joined the company in 1995, first as an adviser to Adelson and later as one of the company's attorneys and liaison with Wall Street.

Most recently, he has focused his efforts on the Sands' casino development in Macau.

Zarnett said Las Vegas is ripe with development opportunities that make such changes in top management at hotel-casinos likely.

"This is one of America's fastest-growing cities on the hotel development side and the emerging population base. There are plenty of opportunities for bright, well-qualified people, and David Friedman fits that mold," he said.

Industry insiders have speculated for more than a year that Friedman was forming a partnership with New York time-share developer Ian Bruce Eichner, and New York and Florida condominium developer Donald Soffer to develop projects in Las Vegas.

Friedman declined to discuss the possible partnership in Las Vegas, and Eichner and Soffer could not be reached for comment.

Eichner built The Manhattan Club, a New York time share, and The Continuum, a $315 million high-rise time share project on Miami Beach's South Beach.

Soffer developed Turnberry Place on Paradise Road across from the Las Vegas Hilton and South Florida's Turnberry Isle Resort and Club.

In his memorandum to workers at The Venetian, Friedman said he looks forward to building "something new from scratch again at this point in my career."

However, he also said he will continue working at The Venetian for several months as a consultant to assure a smooth transition. No successor has been named.