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17 December 2015

Sheldon Adelson Behind Purchase of Las Vegas Review-Journal

Las Vegas Review-Journal and sibling publications were purchased for $140 million in cash last week by News + Media Capital Group, whose backers weren’t disclosed

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, at the National Israeli-American Conference in Washington in October.

Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate and major Republican donor, backs the mysterious company that last week purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The more-than-century-old paper and its sibling publications were purchased for $140 million in cash last week from New Media Investment Group Inc. by News + Media Capital Group LLC, a Delaware-based firm whose backers weren’t disclosed.

The secrecy over the buyer drew interest across the media world, and criticism from some corners. The paper’s editorial board on Wednesday wrote that “the lack of disclosure of the newspaper’s new ownership group compromises this publication’s ability to demand transparency of others.”

Fortune earlier reported that Mr. Adelson had purchased the paper.


A spokesman for Mr. Adelson declined to comment. Michael Schroeder, the only News + Media Capital executive named in the sale announcement, declined to comment. New Media Investment Group didn’t respond to requests for comment.

New Media Investment only controlled the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a short time before selling it off. The company in February agreed to pay $102.5 million for Stephens Media LLC, a chain of eight daily papers, including the Review-Journal, and dozens of weeklies. New Media Investment said it would enjoy an estimated 69% gain on the transaction.

The substantial premium Mr. Adelson’s News + Media Capital paid comes despite a tough environment for newspapers generally, with print advertising in decline.

Mr. Adelson, the chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp. and a power broker in the Republican party, had been widely rumored to be the mystery buyer. On Tuesday evening, the Republican presidential primary debate was held at one of his hotels, the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino.

The Review-Journal, Nevada’s largest daily paper, has long piqued Mr. Adelson’s interest, according to people familiar with the matter, though one person said he hasn’t expressed interest in other American media properties. Issues he has been concerned about historically have been Israel, union issues and gambling policies at the state and national level.

Mr. Adelson is no stranger to the publishing world. He already owns a newspaper, Israel Hayom, in Israel.

Mr. Adelson sued Wall Street Journal reporter Kate O’Keeffe for libel in Hong Kong in 2013.  A spokeswoman for the Journal, which wasn’t named in the action, has said the newspaper will continue to vigorously defend Ms. O’Keeffe in the suit, which is ongoing.