HENRY FOK 霍英東
(1923 – 2006) is to offload his shares in
a Macau gambling concern after a 40-year partnership with casino mogul
Stanley Ho amid a war of words over profits. Beijing-linked
tycoon Fok says he will sell his 23,623 shares in Sociedad de Turismo e
Diversoes de Macau (STDM) by March 31, when its casino monopoly expires. He
did not name the potential buyer or buyers, or say how much his shares would
be worth. In an interview with the pro-Beijing daily Ta Kung Pao
yesterday, he said the decision was a matter of ``personal preference'' and
had nothing to do with the future direction of STDM .
Ho recently won another casino licence by
bidding under Sociedade de Jogos de Macau.
Fok said the proceeds from the sale of
his stake would be used to set up a charity foundation to help Macau develop
its cultural and leisure activities.
He said he had never meant to take part
in Macau's gambling business when he lent $400,000 to Ho in 1961. The
understanding was that Ho would place ``a minimum bid'' at the last minute
to save face but give way to local interests. He said Ho had asked for the
money because he did not have enough cash to make up the $1 million required
minimum bid, which he wanted to place because people were speculating he
would not dare to do so one day before the deadline. But Ho ended up winning
with a $3.16 million bid the next day. STDM was formed and began its casino
monopoly in 1962. ``I became a director of STDM under the circumstances,''
Fok said. ``But I never really went into handling the [casino] business.
What I did was build the ferry terminal and operated the passenger cruise
Fok had complained about receiving just
over $126 million of STDM's $1.4 billion profit last year despite owning 27
per cent of the shares. The tycoon, honorary chairman of the Chinese General
Chamber of Commerce, revealed in June in his book Macau Casino Saga
that he received between $50 million and $200 million a year from his share
in STDM, which he believed was less than what Ho allocated to himself. Ho,
whom Fok called ``a close friend for decades'', replied that the company had
to use the profit to fund its investment on the airport, Macau Tower and a
Fok admitted he rarely visited Macau in
the 40 years since STDM was set up because he had no interest in the casino
business. He told Ta Kung Pao the charity foundation would be set up
to continue his support for Macau SAR Chief Executive Edmund Ho's plan to
develop the city's tourism industry.
Fok, also a Chinese People's Political
Consultative Conference vice-chairman, has funded infrastructure projects
and sports development on the mainland. His interests on the mainland have
been growing, particularly since the Guangzhou municipal government started
its 200 billion yuan (HK$188.6 billion) plan to develop the
319-square-kilometre greater Nansha area into a transport and industrial
hub. Fok initiated the plan in the early 1990s.
The Macau government announced on
February 8 it had awarded casino licences to Wynn Resorts (Macau) of Las
Vegas, owned by gaming tycoon Steve Wynn; Galaxy Casino belonging to magnate
Sheldon Adelson, who owns the Venetian complex in Las Vegas; and Ho's
Sociedade de Jogos de Macau. Ho has promised to invest $4.7 billion in his
new casino developments; Wynn at least $4 billion; and Galaxy Casino $8.8
billion. Ho plans to build a luxurious hotel near his Lisboa Hotel as well
as an amusement park near Praia Grande Bay, and a Chinese and Latin cultural
village in Macau's old quarter in the Inner Harbour. Wynn said he was trying
to entice Lan Kwai Fong Group chairman Alan Zeman to invest in his Macau
casino-hotels. Macau tycoon Wong Chi-seng would be a 10 per cent partner,
and Marc Schorr, Wynn's partner of 20 years and president of the Mirage
casino, would own 1 per cent of the new casino. Hong Kong property tycoon
Lui Che-woo and Pedro Ho of Macau are reportedly partners in the
Galaxy/Venetian complex project, which will include a 15,000 square metre
casino hall and other entertainment venues.
- iMail.com 27 February 2002
tycoon Henry Fok said yesterday he was pulling out of former casino monopoly
Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau (STDM).
He will donate all proceeds from the sale
of his shares in the company to charity and to infrastructure development
projects in Macau and the mainland.
Fok, one of the major shareholders in
STDM, said the money raised from the sale of his 27.7 per cent stake he owns
would initially be placed in a trust fund.
Speaking at a press conference, he cited
a loss of interest in the casino industry for his withdrawal from the
company. ``I've already lost my enthusiasm for being engaged in the casino
industry,'' he said. ``I think it will be a good time for me to withdraw
from the STDM board at such a transitional period.''
The Macau government has opened up the
industry and in February granted three casino licences to Sociedade de Jogos
de Macau (a subsidiary of STDM), Wynn Resorts and Galaxy Casino.
Fok had previously expressed wishes to
pull out of the gaming industry and in 1986 signed an agreement to sell his
shares for $600 million.
``But as one of the major company
shareholders opposed my withdrawal, I had to eventually stay with the
company,'' he said, adding that when the company was formed in 1962 its
original aim was to be a non-profit organisation to raise money for
charities and infrastructure development in Macau.
But Fok said other major shareholders
later had different ideas and that was another reason why he wanted out.
A source said it was believed Fok's
shares would be valued at around $6 billion to $7 billion.
The trust fund will be placed under the
supervision of the Macau government. Fok met Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho
and STDM chairman Stanley Ho in Panyu on Saturday, to talk about his plans.
``Both the Chief Executive and Stanley Ho
have not opposed my withdrawal,'' he said.
Fok said Ho had declared an
interest in buying his shares. ``But he has yet to formally make me an
offer. I think we'll need further discussions before agreeing on a price,''
Fok said, adding that that could take up to a month. -
by Michael Ng
iMail 2 April 2002