Debt-laden Las Vegas Sands Corp, controlled by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, announced yesterday that it had secured commitments to raise up to US$600 million through the sale of exchangeable bonds as it continues to claw itself out of trouble. The bonds will be mandatorily exchangeable into shares when it spins off its Macau operations in an initial public offering in Hong Kong early next year in which it hopes to raise US$2.5 billion. The announcement confirms a story published in the South China Morning Post last month which said the convertible bonds were being offered at interest rates of up to 16 per cent, according to people who had seen the documents prepared by the Sands' investment bank, Goldman Sachs. 'The completion of this financing, which we expect to occur in a matter of days, will enhance our current liquidity position and further our efforts towards reaching long-term financial stability,' said Adelson. The casino operator owes US$10.8 billion to its banks, including US$3.3 billion of Macau debt it accumulated building the vast Venetian and Four Seasons resorts. Las Vegas Sands had come close to breaching the terms of its Macau loan agreements by taking on more debt while earnings remained flat, but a few weeks ago it managed to renegotiate the credit facility. The loan agreement was reworded in a way that lets it sell a minority interest in its Macau operations to raise cash. The amendment gave the casino operator six quarters of relief from some requirements of its debt agreements. It also opened the door for Las Vegas Sands to issue senior secured or unsecured notes in Macau. 'We will continue working to solidify our financial position while at the same time staying true to our long-term business strategy,' said Adelson. 'Our company remains uniquely positioned to develop large-scale integrated resorts and to monetise the various non-core assets of those developments when economic and capital market conditions are appropriate,' he said. Las Vegas Sands president Michael Leven said: 'The actions we have taken in recent weeks have clearly helped to strengthen our balance sheet.' The company has bought time to either repay debt or restart its stalled construction of a 6,400-room hotel and casino development on Macau's Cotai strip. The company stopped building the resort in November and laid off nearly 11,000 construction workers.