In Western culture, its a little strange
that some billionaire can have so many wives + not encounter human rights
issues as a polygamist. In Asian culture, buck$ = babes! So
for many centuries now, those who could afford several families would have
several families. It was a sign of wealth. But at life's
end, things are not always so clear cut! Succession for Asian
families is a very difficult issue. Trust is not common between
the generations or within Chinese families. Money is often used as
a weapon... >> More
Succession Issues Plague the Ho Dynasty
An Asian godfather reshuffles
After several false starts Stanley Ho,
Macau's erstwhile casino monopolist, at last broke through a logjam of
litigation and scepticism this week and took his ailing gambling franchise
public, agreeing on July 2nd to sell a 25% stake for some $500m. SJM
Holdings, as his company is now known, owns 19 of Macau's 29 casinos and
has the biggest market share, but its lead is tenuous and the deal was not
an easy sell. Hong Kong's new-issuance market is weak after many
disastrous offerings this year, and for what Mr Ho wanted to sell - some
shabby casinos built to serve what used to be a captive market - it is
In 2004 SJM had revenues of HK$34 billion
($4.4 billion), 85% of the total for Macau's gambling industry. Three
years later Macau's gambling revenues have doubled, but SJM's have
declined. New figures suggest that it may soon lose its leadership to Las
Vegas Sands, which owns two giant casinos, the Sands and the Venetian, that
are as glittering as SJM's are grim.
A year ago, when a listing of SJM was
first being broached, SJM might have expected to be valued at 14 times
cashflow, rather than today's seven times, says Billy Ng, a securities
analyst at JPMorgan. Back then the Hong Kong market for public offerings was
euphoric and the full impact of the entry of two rival firms from Las Vegas,
Wynn and Sands, was not so apparent. Efforts to seize that opportunity,
however, were delayed by a deluge of litigation by Mr Ho's sister, Winnie,
who has long feuded with him over the management of the family's various
casino operations. The legal fight postponed a planned listing in January.
To allow the deal to proceed this week, investors have been indemnified
against any related legal costs.
The offering document was littered with
titbits about Mr Ho's empire. He turns out to have an interest in a casino
in North Korea; stakes in five of SJM's largest suppliers, including the
ferries that bring punters to Macau; and interests in local horse- and
dog-racing franchises, a Chinese lottery and various hotels and property.
Disclosing all this information cannot
have been easy for Mr Ho. For years he has trod a difficult line, being one
of Hong Kong's most visible personalities and appearing at society events,
while also running a complicated, mysterious business empire. Why, given the
weak market, has he chosen to bring it all to light now?
Perhaps it is the first step in a more
profound rehabilitation of SJM, prompted by Mr Ho's acceptance of just how
badly it has been gored by foreign competitors. In February 2007 SJM
responded with its own elaborate casino across from his old flagship, the
Casino Lisboa. But the new Grand Lisboa is far from packed and still lacks
an occupancy licence for the hotel above the gaming floor. A public listing
now may not bring in much money, but it provides a way to raise money in
future and grant ownership stakes to more competent managers. Mr Ho must
have realised that the game has changed.
- 2008 July 3 THE
wife stepping into TV role
Angela Leong On-kei, wife
of casino magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun, confirmed she is in discussions to
buy a stake in TVB Pay Vision Holdings.
"The details still need to be studied,"
Leong told Eastweek. "I am optimistic about the pay television market,
as many people are willing to pay for it at the moment."
Television Broadcasts (0511) announced last
Wednesday that it would sell off a 20 percent stake in the pay-TV company.
According to a source, Leong will team up with a
Macau investor to buy a 20 percent stake of TVB Pay Vision for HK$140
million. Leong declined to confirm these details.
After the deal, TVB Pay Vision Holdings majority
shareholder See Corporation Limited (0491) will still hold its 51 percent
stake. TVB's holding will be reduced to 29 percent from the current 49
The deal is expected to strengthen TVB Pay Vision
vis-a-vis its larger competitors, Cable TV and Now TV.
Leong's purchase can reduce TVB's subsidy to TVB
Pay Vision, Goldman Sachs said in a report.
The pay-television company has been in the red
since its launch, owing to the firewall provisions in the broadcasting
licenses which require free-TV license holder TVB to operate independently
from TVB Vision.
Leong has also been investing in property,
catering and the stock market in recent years.
Two years ago, she joined the board of gaming
company Sociedade de Jogos de Macau and was also elected to Macau's
Leong has invested more than HK$3 billion in the
property market in the past few years.
The television industry is her next step. "I
would like to divert investments into other industries," she said.
STANDARD 2007 September 5
Stanley Ho's bank in Macau
Chinese bank pays $590 million to acquire an 80% interest in Seng Heng Bank
from Stanley Ho and CEO Patrick Huen
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China said on Wednesday it will acquire
Macau’s third largest lender, Seng Heng Bank. ICBC, China’s largest
bank, will pay HK$4.55 billion ($590 million) for a 79.93% stake in the
Macau bank, which is majority-owned by Stanley Ho.
Seng Heng was established in 1972 and acquired by Ho's company Sociedade de
Tourismo e Diversoe de Macao (STDM) in 1989. It had assets of HK$24.6
billion and profits of HK$302 million for the latest financial year ended
December 31, 2006. It has nine branches and 47 ATMs in Macau. The sell-side
was advised by Credit Suisse.
The net asset value of Seng Heng Bank as at June 30, 2007 was HK$1.80
billion. The price agreed between the sellers and ICBC is based on an NAV
assumption of HK$1.86 billion and allows both sides to adjust the price to
reflect upward or downward revision in the assumption. Goldman Sachs advised
The price represents an NAV multiple of about 3.1 times, using the
assumed NAV, and represents an earnings multiple of around 19 times trailing
The deal can be benchmarked against the August 2006 acquisition by China
Construction Bank of Bank of America’s 14 Hong Kong and three Macau
branches for HK$9.7 billion. The price paid by China Construction Bank
represented a book value multiple of 1.32 times net assets and 18.1 times
ICBC will pay HK$3.98 billion for the 70% controlling stake in Seng Heng
Bank owned by STDM, Stanley Ho’s flagship gaming, recreation and property
development company. (Ho is Seng Heng’s chairman and managing director.)
Additionally, ICBC will pay HK$565 million to Seng Heng's chief executive
officer, Patrick Huen, for another 9.93% in equity. Huen will continue to
own a 20.07% stake in the bank and be entitled to proportionate
representation on the board.
Huen has agreed to a three-year lock-up for his residual holding and has
negotiated a tag-along right should ICBC decide to dilute its ownership
below 51% during the lock-up. After three years, ICBC will have the first
right of refusal on Huen’s shares at the same price at which he can sell
them to a third party. ICBC also has a call option on Huen’s shares at the
end of three years at a price as per a pre-determined formula.
The consideration will be paid in two tranches: 85% upon completion and the
balance of 15% will be placed in an escrow account for six months post
completion. The escrow account funds will be used to settle any claims or
arbitration against the sellers and the reduced amount will then be paid to
the sellers. Completion is expected by March 2008 and both the sellers have
agreed to a non-compete for a period of three years.
The announcement follows one day after the opening of the Venetian Macao,
one of Asia's largest casino resorts, which is expected to reinforce the
standing of Macau as a premier gaming destination. Some speculation has
arisen that the acquisition represents a way for China to exercise tighter
control on Macau’s gaming industry and its cash inflows and outflows.
That may well be the case but it is equally true that for ICBC, which has
2.51 million corporate banking customers and 180 million personal banking
customers, the acquisition gives it a strong foothold in a region which
seems set to continue to grow and takes the bank nearer to its stated goal
of being a “first-class international financial institution”.
ASIA 2007 August 30
Stanley Ho shells out record HK$69m
for Qing sculpture
(HONG KONG) Casino
billionaire Stanley Ho paid a record HK$69.1 million (S$13.3 million) for a
Qing Dynasty bronze, preventing a controversial auction of the looted
artwork by Sotheby's. Mr Ho planned to donate the horse head sculpture to
|Equine gift: The
bronze, looted in 1860, was originally scheduled to be auctioned but
MrHo pre-purchased the piece and will
donate it to China
The work is one of 12 zodiac animals from
a water clock fountain in Yuanmingyuan, the imperial summer palace,
according to Sotheby's, the world's biggest publicly traded auction house.
The palace was set ablaze and its treasures plundered and scattered by
British and French troops in October 1860. Earlier this month, Sotheby's
said that it would auction the sculpture in Hong Kong on Oct 6, sparking
protests from Chinese officials.
'Dr Ho bought the horse head and will be
donating it to China,' said Janet Wong, Mr Ho's Hong Kong-based spokeswoman.
In 2000, Hong Kong protesters
demonstrated outside Sotheby's auction site when it sold the water clock's
tiger head. Hong Kong lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, who helped initiate that
protest, said that he may hold another if Sotheby's auctioned the horse
In 2003, Mr Ho bought the clock's boar
head at a private sale and donated it to Beijing's Poly museum, an arm of
the People's Liberation Army. Poly museum also has the monkey and ox. The
rabbit and the rat belong to a private European collection, while the
whereabouts of the other zodiac signs are unknown.
Sotheby's had previously said that it
expected the horse head sculpture to fetch as much as HK$80 million at the
The price Mr Ho agreed to pay is the
highest for a Qing Dynasty sculpture, according to a statement from the
Sotheby's decided to sell the bronze to
Mr Ho 'given his good intention to donate the bronze to China', said Rhonda
Yung, the auction house's Hong Kong-based spokeswoman.
Earlier this month, Xu Yongxiang, a buyer
for China's state-run Shanghai Museum, said that the horse head was 'stolen
property' and should be returned to the Chinese government.
Sotheby's Asia chief executive Kevin
Ching said on Sept 5 that the proposed auction was legal. The 1995 United
Nations Unidroit Convention limits claims on stolen cultural artifacts to
within 50 years of their theft.
The horse head had been billed as the
highlight of a four-day auction in Hong Kong starting on Oct 6. --
2007 September 21
sister wins bid to fight case in HK
HK judge allows her case against Ho to be heard
sister of casino magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun has won the latest round of an
epic sibling battle, with a judge allowing her to pursue a claim against the
tycoon in Hong Kong amid threats to her safety in Macau.
|Family fall-out: Ms Ho is challenging her sacking as a
director of Mr Ho's flagship firm in 2001. She's unwilling to pursue
her legal action in Macau following threats to both her and her
Winnie Ho Yuen-ki is unwilling to travel
to the former Portuguese enclave to pursue legal proceedings against her
brother following a number of threats to both her and her lawyers. Two of
her legal representatives have also been physically assaulted.
In a significant victory this week, a
Hong Kong judge allowed a challenge by Ms Ho to her sacking as a director of
Stanley Ho's flagship Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau (STDM) in
2001 and her removal as a shareholder in 2005 to be heard in Hong Kong.
Despite recognising that Macau is the
natural venue of choice, Justice Michael Hartmann cited 'an attempt by
thuggery to prevent the plaintiff (Ms Ho) from pursuing what she believes to
be her legitimate rights through the courts of Macau.'
The judge continued: 'I have found there
is cogent evidence that, if the plaintiff is forced to bring her action in
Macau, her personal safety, and that of her representatives, may well be at
The court heard that in September 2002,
Ms Ho's then solicitor CK Mok was assaulted by a number of men in Hong Kong.
A further assault took place a few months
later near Mr Mok's home. Following the second attack, Mr Mok backed out as
her legal counsel.
Two years later, Ms Ho received two
letters warning her not to come to Macau. 'Remember CK Mok,' it said. A few
months later, two of Ms Ho's new legal representatives also received
More recently, her legal counsel in 2006,
Albert Ho - who is also a legislator in Hong Kong - was brutally attacked in
broad daylight at a McDonald's restaurant. It left him hospitalised for a
number of days.
Police investigations have not been
successful, the judge noted. 'But the fact remains that two solicitors of
unblemished professional integrity have been assaulted, one of them twice,
the only known common denominator being the fact that, at the time of the
attacks, both were representing the plaintiff in her Macau litigation,' he
The decision to allow the case to be
heard in Hong Kong will be a significant blow to the casino magnate, who
will be forced to air the family's dirty laundry in public. The pair fell
out in 2001 when the government of Macau put up a number of casino licences
for tender, ending STDM's monopoly.
Ms Ho had wanted to sell her shares in
the company. STDM had alleged, however, that Ms Ho and her son wanted to
secure a casino licence, thereby putting the two in direct competition with
She was subsequently removed as an
executive director, and later as a shareholder. Ms Ho claims her brother
used unlawful means to prevent her from transferring her shares to third
parties, and caused her economic loss.
She is also claiming her brother defamed
her in 2001 by telling the media she was in financial difficulties and owed
money to STDM. Ms Ho claims she was further defamed in 2006 when her brother
made comments about her litigation against STDM.
- by Jane Moir SINGAPORE
BUSINESS TIMES 9 August 2007
Stanley Ho's daughter
files blank cheque IPO
(NEW YORK) Angela
Ho, daughter of billionaire casino operator Stanley Ho, filed to raise US$100
million through an initial public offering of a blank-cheque company.
The Asia Special Situation Acquisition
Corp, based in George Town, Grand Cayman, plans to sell 10 million units for
US $10 each, according to a filing yesterday with the US Securities and
Exchange Commission. The units will include one share and one warrant, which
will enable the holder to purchase common stock for US$7.50.
The offering is for a blank-cheque company,
also known as a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Shares of the
shell company are sold to the public to finance a merger or acquisition that
the executives haven't yet identified. Blank- cheque companies
have raised US$4.9 billion in 37 IPOs this year, compared with US$3.2 billion
in 36 offerings all of last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The company plans to search for an
acquisition in the leisure, hospitality or financial services industry in
Asia, with a special focus on China, the filing said.
Before the offering, insiders will purchase
5.73 million warrants for US$1 each, the filing said. The underwriter has the
option to sell an additional 1.5 million units if there's enough demand.
Shares will be listed on the American Stock
Exchange. Maxim Group LLC is underwriting the sale.
Stanley Ho was ranked 104th among the
world's richest people in 2007 with an estimated net worth of US$7 billion,
according to Forbes Magazine, the filing said.
Until 2000, Mr Ho held a government-granted
monopoly in the Macau gambling industry.
Macau is the only Chinese city where
casinos are legal.
Gaming revenue surged after the government
awarded licences to companies including Las Vegas Sands Corp and Wynn Resorts
Ltd, ending Mr Ho's four-decade monopoly. -- Bloomberg
8 August 2007
unfazed by competition
His Casino Lisboa is
still Macau's top, despite new entries
Stanley Ho, the billionaire who lost his
four-decade Macau gaming monopoly in 2002, hasn't let new competitors such
as Las Vegas Sands Corp shake his dominance of a gambling market forecast to
match Las Vegas's by 2008.
The 25-year-old Casino Lisboa, Mr Ho's flagship,
has averaged HK$50 million (S$10.6 million) in daily gross gaming revenue
since Sands opened Macau's first Vegas-style casino in May 2004, said Manuel
Joaquim das Neves, director of the Chinese city's Gaming Control Board.
Daily spending has averaged HK$20 million at the
US$265 million Sands, which has 30 per cent more gaming tables and four
times more slot machines than the Lisboa.
The tycoon's Melco International Development Ltd
has said it will build a second casino with Kerry Packer's Publishing &
Broadcasting Ltd (PBL).
The companies paid US$214 million for land on
Macau's Cotai Strip, where Las Vegas Sands Corp wants to develop a US$12
billion Vegas-themed gambling strip. The casino will feature an underwater
gaming hall with 450 tables and 3,000 slots, Sydney-based PBL said in a
statement on Thursday. The complex will also have two hotels, a shopping
mall and a 4,000-seat concert hall.
Mr Ho, 83, is staying ahead because of his lock on
Macau's so-called VIP market, which consists of about 4,000 gamblers -
mostly from mainland China - who bet an average US$1 million per visit, Mr
Neves said. They accounted for 70 per cent of Macau's US$5.1 billion in
gaming revenue last year, he estimated.
'Stanley Ho dominates the VIP market,' Mr Neves,
45, said in an interview. 'He has the contacts, and he has a huge headstart
in the business.'
The Lisboa faces a new wave of competition from
casino and hotel operators targeting a broader clientele as Macau, a former
Portuguese enclave and the only place in China where casinos are legal,
opens its gaming market. Tourist arrivals to the city, an hour from Hong
Kong by ferry, rose 45 per cent to a record 16.7 million last year, and
gaming revenue rose 43 per cent, according to government figures. The city's
economy expanded a record 28 per cent.
Xinhua news agency reported yesterday that
official figures show Macau recorded 4.45 million visitor arrivals in the
first quarter, an increase of 18.8 per cent from the same period of 2004.
Figures from the Macao Statistics and Census Service (MSCS) showed that the
region, which registers 465,000 residents, hugged in 596,860 package
tourists in the quarter, a 9.8 per cent year-on-year increase.
Chinese mainlanders made up some 75 per cent of
the package-tour arrivals in March, according to the statistics.
So far, Mr Ho's 13 casinos have two competitors:
Sands and Galaxy Casino SA, a privately-held casino operator controlled by
Hong Kong construction tycoon Lui Che-woo that opened a US$62 million Macau
casino in July.
Its competitors are also expanding. Sands said in
February 2002 after it won a concession license from Galaxy that it would
build a second Macau casino replicating its Venetian-themed Las Vegas
resort. The US$1.8 billion Macau Venetian Casino Resort, scheduled to open
in the first quarter of 2007, will feature 3,000 suites, 850,000 square feet
of retail space and artificial canals and gondoliers.
Sands is joining with hotel operators including
InterContinental Hotels Group Plc and Four Seasons Hotels Inc to develop a
US$12 billion Las Vegas-themed gambling strip in Macau. Las Vegas casino
operator Wynn Resorts Ltd, led by Stephen Wynn, also plans to build a Macau
resort. The company said in a May 4 statement it would add a US$345 million
wing to the US$700 million casino it plans to open in 2006.
Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, known as SJM -
controlled by Mr Ho's 42-year-old daughter, Pansy
Ho - last year formed a 50-50 venture with Las Vegas-based MGM Mirage to
build the US$975 million MGM Grand Macau, due to open in 2007. MGM Mirage
said in a statement that the waterfront casino will boast private villas, a
spa and 1,000 slot machines. - Bloomberg
14 May 2005
Stanley Ho ups the ante with plans
for residential and hotel investments in the face of new casino operators
Stanley Ho Hung-sun's Shun Tak Holdings plans a $1
billion expansion binge in Macau, betting that the economic resurgence in
the former Portuguese colony is more than just a run of good luck.
Shun Tak deputy managing director Daisy Ho said at
the company's annual general meeting yesterday that the firm would invest
$680 million in a one-million square foot residential project, Nova Taipa
Gardens phase two, in Macau.
The company had also identified a site for a new
hotel and entertainment complex and would invest a total of $1 billion in
Macau's property and hotel market over the next three to five years, Ms Ho
Observers say the company's Hong Kong land bank is
close to exhaustion and it will need to concentrate on investment
alternatives in Macau.
The opening of the Sands casino last month and the
Galaxy casino, while not the best of news for Mr Ho's gambling operations,
will create myriad opportunities for Shun Tak in other sectors of Macau's
Shun Tak managing director Pansy Ho Chiu-king said
the liberalised gambling industry would help rejuvenate the hospitality
sector and related businesses.
"We would like to ride on the improved
investment opportunities in non-gaming industries," she said, pointing
out the firm had no plans to increase its stake in Sociedade de Turismo e
Diversoes de Macau (STDM).
Yields at the group's hotels - Mandarin Oriental
Macau and Westin Resort Macau - had gone up by up to 40 per cent in the
first quarter of this year, Pansy Ho said.
Their yields jumped 200 per cent during the Labour
Day golden week holiday over the previous week.
"Our hotel business has been boosted
significantly after the relaxation of the mainland's individual traveller
scheme," Pansy Ho said.
Shun Tak owns 11 per cent of Mr Ho's privately
held STDM, which is heavily exposed to the gambling business in Macau
through its 80 per cent-held subsidiary Sociedade de Jogos de Macau.
Last year, STDM raised its stake in Shun Tak to 13
per cent, sparking speculation that it may inject its casino operation into
the Hong Kong-listed company.
Pansy Ho refused to comment directly on the impact
of the Sands casino on STDM's gambling business in Macau.
But for Shun Tak's ferry services, she said the
new arrival had been a windfall.
"The number of ferry passengers has been
growing by a single percentage point every day in the first week after the
opening of Sands casino," she said.
She said that negotiations with Sands over the
installation of ferry ticket dispensers inside its casino were under way,
and that Galaxy planned to offer monthly Shun Tak ferry tickets to its
customers. - by Sandy Li SOUTH
CHINA MORNING POST 4 June 2004
first executive airline takes off
Hong Kong Express, chaired by Macau casino tycoon
Stanley Ho, launched the city's first executive airline yesterday with its
main target the lucrative Chinese market.
The airline, formerly Helicopters Hong Kong and of
which Mr Ho is one of the main shareholders, said it wants to take advantage
of the growth in business travel between Hong Kong and China. It will fly
daily to the southern city of Guangzhou by next month and later to Hangzhou,
Nanjing, Chongqing and Ningbo.
'There is the opportunity if you look at it, now
with CEPA (a trade agreement between Hong Kong and China) and the opening of
Disneyland (in Hong Kong), the economic climate is perfect, the timing is
right,' said Andrew Tse, the airline's chief executive officer and one of
its two primary shareholders along with Mr Ho.
The airline has leased four Embraer 76-seat
aircraft and Mr Tse said its fleet may have up to 10, targeting
international travellers who go to China through Hong Kong. 'With smaller
aircraft, we can have more frequencies. This is the model we want to offer
and provide shuttle services (to the customers),' he said, adding that the
airline has travel rights to 10 other Chinese cities. It is also looking at
destinations outside China, including the Koh Samui resort in Thailand.
4 August 2005
Ho building biggest Macau casino
(HONG KONG) Macau
tycoon Stanley Ho yesterday unveiled plans for what will be the gambling
haven's largest casino, the Oceanus, a colossal downtown entertainment
complex covering three city blocks.
The casino, which will replace the ageing Jai Alai
in the heart of the former Portuguese enclave, is expected to cost some
HK$6.2 billion (S$1.3 billion) and be completed in 2009.
It will feature a 600-room hotel and a 180-metre
apartment tower as well as the city's largest commercial and retail centre.
'We had to conceive a building that could become a
landmark, with a strong symbolic appearance that shows not only the dynamism
of a fast-changing Macau but also continuity from the past,' architect Paul
Andreu told reporters.
Mr Andreu, the designer of the controversial
egg-shaped National Grand Theatre in the Chinese capital, Beijing, said that
he wanted the casino to be the first thing passengers arriving at the nearby
ferry pier saw. 'People leaving Macau will look back with some regret,' he
Oceanus will be Mr Ho's 15th casino in the city,
cementing his position in the downtown area. The complex will be linked to
the ferry pier - which he owns and plans to redesign.
The combined development will practically encircle
Sands Macau, the first American-owned casino to open in the enclave and
whose arrival last May spearheaded a renaissance in the once ailing gaming
sector, which last year earned some US$5 billion, a shade short of that
earned in Las Vegas.
Another two American gaming companies are building
casinos in the Chinese territory, taking advantage of foreign operator rules
that were relaxed three years ago, robbing Mr Ho of a gambling monopoly that
he had had for more than 40 years.
The sudden growth of casino business in Macau has
been driven by a huge increase in the number of mainland Chinese visitors to
the city, who accounted for 80 per cent of the 17 million arrivals last
Meanwhile, gross casino revenue in the
gaming-friendly Chinese enclave is seen rising more than 40 per cent in
April from the same month last year, a Macau government source said last
Total gross revenue for Macau's 17 casinos was
estimated at 3.7 billion patacas (S$755 million) for the month, the source,
who declined to be named, told Reuters.
For the first four months, the casino sector's
gross receipts rose more than 20 per cent to 13.9 billion patacas from 11.5
billion patacas in the same period last year, the source said.
Mr Ho's Hung Sun's Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM)
accounts for about 70 per cent of the territory's gaming market, with the
balance equally shared by Hong Kong-owned Galaxy Casino and the local unit
of Las Vegas Sands Corp, which runs Macau's first American-type casino, the
The casino industry generated a record total for
gross revenue of 40 billion patacas last year, more than doubling over the
previous three years, according to official figures.
- AFP, Reuters
4 may 2005
Tak set for $1b tourism spree
If gaming mogul Stanley Ho is losing gamblers to the new Las
Vegas casino operators invading his Macau stronghold, he intends to make up
at least some of it by ferrying new legions of punters to the tables via his
fast ferries and putting them up when they get there.
Over the next three to five years, Macau-Hong
Kong ferry service provider, Shun Tak Holdings, Ho's flagship operation,
plans to invest HK$1 billion on tourism-related businesses, the company
The city, whose tourism industry is being
boosted by the influx of mainland tourists and casino visitors recently,
should have plenty of room for hotel development, managing director Pansy Ho
Speaking after Shun Tak's extraordinary
general meeting yesterday, Ho said the opening of the new Las Vegas Sands
casino has lifted the company's shipping operations.
``We have reported single-digit growth in
passenger traffic since the opening of Las Vegas Sands. It is quite
substantial growth in terms of daily figures and I hope it will be
sustainable,'' Ho said.
Macau's casino industry, which has been
monopolised by Stanley Ho over the past four decades, was opened up to other
new players in 2002.
``I believe the casino business is the
driving force to lift other sectors,'' Pansy Ho said.
Shun Tak, she continued, has no plans to
become directly involved in the new gaming operations, although it holds
11.48 per cent of Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM).
``Instead, we will launch more
infrastructure and hotel projects in a bid to cater to the rising number of
tourists,'' she said. ``We plan to use about HK$1 billion for those
She said the company would first
strengthen the transportation and local tourism business network in the
city. ``We have entered into agreements with bus service providers to
operate cross-border routes. We are also applying for licences to operate
travel agency businesses,'' Ho added. ``After establishing a comprehensive
system of sale and distribution, we will start our hotel projects.''
The managing director said the company is
eyeing a central area prime site for hotel development.
But, she said ``no further details can be
revealed at this stage as negotiations are still ongoing''.
In the first quarter of this year, Shun
Tak's profit margin for hotel rooms increased by 30-40 per cent. The profit
margin during the week-long Labour Day holiday surged by 200 per cent.
Ho said the company would welcome
collaboration with new casino players so long as the operations are
Shun Tak, she said, is in talks with Las
Vegas Sands to set up self-service TurboJet ticket machines within the
Shun Tak has also reached an agreement
with Galaxy Casino for the purchase of a substantial amount of ferry tickets
every month. But details have yet to be finalised.
Last year, Macau authorities allowed two
new concessionaires in the casino industry - Wynn Resorts, headed by Las
Vegas gaming magnate Steve Wynn, and Galaxy Casino, led by Sheldon Adelson.
As to tourist-related businesses, deputy
managing director Daisy Ho revealed the company would invest HK$680 million
in the second phase of Nova Taipa Gardens.
Shares of Shun Tak dropped 2.33 per
cent yesterday to close at HK$3.15.
- By Eli Lau HONG
KONG STANDARD 4 June 2004
Let the gaming begin
Any Macau citizen or tourist who decided to avoid
spending money on Stanley Ho Hung-sun's properties would find life very
difficult. After all, the 82-year-old mogul owns a jetfoil fleet, the Macau
Tower, several hotels ranging from three- to five-star, Macau's only
television station and a newspaper, not to mention 12 casinos under
Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM).
Even Mr Ho's rival, Sheldon Adelson, CEO of Las
Vegas-based The Venetian, whose Sands casino opened on Tuesday, stayed at
the Westin Resort, a Stanley Ho property.
With the debut of the Sands ending 42 years of Mr Ho's gambling monopoly,
many in Macau wonder if his family-run empire can remain indomitable. In a
way, Mr Ho's dramatic "high noon" entrance at the Sands opening
ceremony already proved his invincibility.
The gaunt Mr Ho strolled into the opening ceremony
minutes after Mr Adelson had started his speech, and took a seat that was
reserved for him in the front row, directly in front of Mr Adelson.
Mr Adelson spontaneously stopped his speech and
thanked Mr Ho for coming. "I have to learn how to be like Dr Ho when I
grow up," Mr Adelson said with impromptu humour. "I want to learn
to dance and to play tennis like Dr Ho does."
Once the lion dance ended, although Mr Ho's
comments to the press were humble and non-provocative, the frantic shouting
of questions from reporters and the incessant camera flash lights spoke
volumes: Stanley Ho was running the show.
"We both have the opportunity to learn from
one another. Anything they can do better, anything they can help in the
gaming [industry], I am going to learn," Mr Ho told the press throng.
That was a low-profile and non-aggressive comment,
given that he could have repeated a statement in January when he said he was
confident that SJM would maintain 70 per cent of the market share in the
face of competition.
Meanwhile, Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah,
who usually attends large and small community and commercial events in Macau,
was significantly absent from the Sands opening. When the Crystal, which is
operated by SJM, opened in May last year, the chief executive did attend.
And even as the champagne flutes were clinking to
the success of the Sands, workers were busy as ants on expanding the SJM
casino empire. In March, construction work started at a former football
pitch next to the Lisboa, Mr Ho's flagship property since the 1970s.
The $2 billion, 40-storey casino-hotel is
estimated to take 18 months to complete, but Mr Ho had said he was keen to
finish it as soon as possible. The facade will be in the shape of a lotus
flower, the emblem of Macau. It will feature a luxury casino, shopping
arcade and a three-level car park.
Another project, pending government approval, is
to convert the New Yaohan building into a casino. The New Yaohan, located
just off the ferry pier in Outer Harbour, is the city's largest department
store. The Macau Daily News, the city's largest Chinese newspaper,
reported that the department store would likely relocate to the Nam Van
area, a less-developed commercial district.
In the long run, Macau's expanding gambling
industry would entail benefits for both SJM and its Las Vegas competitors,
said Davis Fong Ka-chio, research co-ordinator at the Institute for the
Study of Commercial Gambling at the University of Macau.
"Stanley Ho's market share will drop, that's
for sure, but decreasing market share does not equal losing money," Mr
Fong said. "Instead, when the layers of people in the Lisboa somewhat
dissipate, it becomes easier for everyone who wants to gamble to place their
bets. The profit generated by each table will go up."
As the four casino operators - SJM, The Venetian,
Wynn Resorts and Galaxy - square off against each other, Mr Fong said he
expected the competition would manifest in improved service quality.
"Another way to compete is by changing the rules of the games to lower
the house advantage or to lower commissions, and at this point I do not see
that happening with the Sands," he said. "Instead, more smiles
from the staff and forfeiting compulsory tipping would be the effective
method to make customers feel more comfortable."
Macau observers say that since the Macau
government announced in 2001 that the gaming industry would be liberalised,
service quality has already started increasing at SJM casinos. Low-paid
dealers who used to take up to 10 per cent tips from punters on their own
accord no longer did so when SJM increased their salaries.
But with competition from the Sands, and from the
Galaxy Waldo casino-hotel slated to open on June 18, the need is pressing
for higher quality services at SJM casinos and the gaming industry in
"Employees do not have to be loyal to one
monopoly any more," said a hotel human resources executive. "They
can look at the whole package including pay, working conditions and working
hours of different companies to make a decision."
But as Sands alone would be employing about 4,500
people by this summer, demand is rising for dealers and other gaming
industry professionals, especially those who speak fluent English and/or
Other industry insiders say Stanley Ho might not
have to struggle as much as speculated, because The Venetian and Wynn
Resorts lack experience in the Macau market and might not be the strongest
competitors that could have come from Las Vegas.
Indeed, although the newly opened Sands features
sumptuous decorations and spacious comfort that many mainland punters have
never experienced, the casino plays mostly western songs in its halls. On
the screen that spans the first-floor stage, a video shows American dollars
gliding in a whirlwind.
While some Sands dealers are employed from
mainland China and do not speak comprehensible Cantonese or English, many
supervisors speak only English.
"The Venetian only operated casinos in the
Las Vegas strip for five years, while Steve Wynn (owner of Wynn Resorts)
does not even have a casino or hotel in Las Vegas right now, after he sold
Mirage," the source, who asked to remain anonymous, said. "The
Macau government did not choose MGM, they chose The Venetian and Wynn. What
does that tell you?"
MGM Mirage, a leading casino and entertainment
company, had courted SJM to discuss a joint concession before each placed
their bids to win a casino-operating concession from the Macau government.
But when the two companies decided to bid on their own, MGM Mirage finished
fifth among 21 local and foreign bidders.
MGM Mirage operates 14 casino resorts in the US
and Australia, including the world-famous Bellagio, Mirage and Treasure
Island casinos in Las Vegas.
Other observers, who are less optimistic about
Stanley Ho's capability for competition, think that a joint venture with MGM
to operate the new casino-hotel next to the Lisboa could break the stalemate
for Mr Ho.
In March and April this year, there were reports
that MGM was continuing talks with SJM, trying to strike a deal while
bypassing the need to bid for any concession. But details of the talks have
not been announced and cannot be confirmed.
Many in Macau still want to see Stanley Ho, one of
their own, succeed in his fight against the American ventures of The
Venetian and Wynn Resorts. They feel thankful towards the Stanley Ho family
for implementing a vision for Macau and making the enclave the city it is
Mr Ho's empire has been a major contributor to
Macau's economy. Of the Macau government's $1.4 billion tax revenue last
year, Mr Ho contributed 69 per cent. His gaming and tourism operations were
estimated to account for 50 to 60 per cent of Macau's $6 billion GDP.
On the other hand, there is also a strong general
sentiment that Stanley Ho, known as "the Godfather of Macau" and
"the King of Casinos", wants to monopolise as much as possible in
the city, regardless of the fact that not all of his businesses are
For instance, the Teledifusao de Macao (TDM),
Macau's only television station, reported in March a loss of $61 million
patacas (HK$59.2 million) last year, a loss that was 11.2 per cent smaller
than previously posted. The local media reported this as good news.
Mr Ho invested in the International Airport of
Macau and has stakes in Air Macau. He is also a major investor in the
Fisherman's Wharf, an amusement park on the Outer Harbour, bordering the
Sands, to be completed in early 2005. He also has stakes in the golf course,
the electricity company, the horse racing track, and roads and bridges.
As Macau taxi driver Ho Chi-wan, put it,
"Maybe Ho Hung-sun himself cannot count what he owns, he has to ask his
But perhaps one source involved with security for
the new casino summed it up best: "I don't think we've seen the last of
Stanley Ho." - by Freda Wan South
China Morning Post
21 May 2004
At 81, the casino billionaire Stanley
Ho makes few concessions to age. The father of 17 children says he swims
every day, plays tennis at least twice a week and enjoys ballroom dancing.
And no, he adds, he has not thought of retiring
from the helm of Sociedade de Turismo e Diversõesde Macau, or STDM, one of
the world's most profitable casino companies, based in the autonomous South
China enclave of Macau. "I feel that I am fit enough to carry on,"
Ho is going to need that stamina. After
monopolizing gambling in the former Portuguese colony for the past 41 years,
he is about to be challenged for the first time on his home turf.
When Macau - 65 kilometers (40 miles) across the
Pearl River estuary from Hong Kong - reverted to Chinese rule in 1999, the
local government opted not to renew Ho's monopoly once it expired at the end
of 2001. The Macau government also permitted two Las Vegas casino
billionaires - Steve Wynn, chief executive of Wynn Resorts, and Sheldon
Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands and its subsidiary, Venetian Casino
Resort - to open their own casinos there. The first U.S.-owned casino,
Adelson's Macau Sands, will open by March 2004.
"Stanley has had a very successful
operation," says Marc Falcone, New York-based managing director and
gambling stock analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities, who visited Macau last
year. "But he's going to face competitive challenges he has never faced
Wynn and Adelson have pledged to invest a total of
$1.6 billion in Macau, which has a population of just 440,000 but last year
attracted a record 12 million visitors. It is the only place where the 1.3
billion people of greater China - including Taiwan and Hong Kong - can
legally gamble in casinos.
Ho has profited handsomely from the gambling trade.
Last year, his 11 Macau casinos earned $230 million on revenue of $2.7
billion. That 8.5 percent profit ratio is better than that of any of the top
three U.S. gambling companies: Park Place Entertainment lost $824 million on
sales of $4.6 billion; Harrah's Entertainment earned $235 million on sales
of $4.1 billion, for a 5.7 percent ratio; and MGM Mirage earned $292 million
on sales of $4 billion, for a 7.3 percent ratio.
STDM is also more profitable than Société des
Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Etrangers à Monaco, which owns the Casino de
Monte Carlo and last year made a profit of $21 million on sales of $298
"Of Macau, Las Vegas and Monte Carlo, Macau
arguably has the most potential because of the population it can draw
on," says Ron Kramer, New York-based president of Wynn Resorts, which
plans to build its casino directly opposite Ho's flagship, the Casino Lisboa
Falcone of Deutsche Bank wrote in a December report
that each of the 340 tables in Ho's Macau casinos returns to the house 10
times as much money on average as those of Las Vegas casinos.
"Macau represents one of the most exciting
potential opportunities in the gaming industry," he says. "The
demographics are extraordinary. It's a substantially underpenetrated
Last year, Macau's economy grew 9.6 percent -
almost four times the rate of Hong Kong's. That was due to a 20 percent
growth in visitor arrivals, according to the Macau government, 90 percent of
which were gamblers from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Gross domestic product
per capita is $15,500 - higher than Portugal's $14,100.
The economy's ebullience is one reason Ho and his
daughter Pansy, 41, his fifth child and a co-director of his two main
companies - STDM and Shun Tak Holdings - are confident they can take on what
Pansy describes as "the onslaught of the newcomers.""Why
should I feel worried?" Ho asks. Ho, who declined to be interviewed in
person, responded to written questions via e-mail. He says that as a young
man, he had to fight off Chinese triad gangsters and pirates who tried to
cash in on his businesses. "All my life I have loved challenges and
never accept no for an answer," he says.
Over the next two years, Ho is investing $600
million to build three theme parks and two new casinos and to convert part
of an office and residential tower into a new five-star hotel.To further
strengthen his hand, Ho is talking to MGM Mirage - which is controlled by
another billionaire octogenarian, Kirk Kerkorian, 86 - about setting up a
joint venture casino adjoining Ho's Lisboa, according to Manuel Joaquim das
Neves, director of the Macau Gaming Control Board.
"Negotiations with MGM are progressing
positively," says Ho, who adds that he expects to reach an agreement by
the end of the summer. Alan Feldman, spokesman for MGM Mirage, which owns
the Mirage, Bellagio and Treasure Island casinos in Las Vegas, says talks
have taken place with members of Ho's team and that no deal has been
Last year, Ho's gaming and tourism operations
accounted for 50 to 60 percent of Macau's $6 billion GDP, says Fung Kwan, an
economist at the University of Macau. The gambling taxes Ho paid made up 69
percent of the Macau government's $1.4 billion in tax revenue, according to
the Macau Monetary Authority.
Spokesmen for the American casino operators say
they hope to turn tiny Macau - 26 square kilometers, or 10 square miles, of
densely stacked tenements, cobbled streets and centuries-old Portuguese
forts and churches - into the Las Vegas of Asia. Their casinos will not only
offer U.S.-style gambling; they will also have entertainment and convention
facilities, their spokesmen say. Adelson plans to disclose details of his
strategy at a news conference in Macau on Tuesday. Wynn, who was chairman of
Mirage Resorts from 1972 to 2000, has focused on offering non-gambling
attractions to lure people to Las Vegas, such as erupting volcanoes,
glamorous entertainment extravaganzas, luxury retail stores and fine dining.
Adelson, too, has concentrated on supplementing his
casino business with entertainment and conventions. In 1979, he developed
the Comdex computer show, now billed as the world's largest trade show.
But investors are betting that Ho can withstand
the Las Vegas invasion and continue to prosper. The share price of Ho's main
publicly traded company, Hong Kong-listed Shun Tak, has surged by about 140
percent since December 2001, when Ho's monopoly concession expired.
During the same period, the benchmark Hang Seng
index in Hong Kong has fallen by 15 percent.Eric Yuen, an analyst at Dao
Heng Securities in Hong Kong, says investors figure that Ho's company is a
good investment because it has so many ways of benefiting from the gambling
business. Gamblers in Macau will be hard-pressed not to spend some money in
one of Ho's hotels, ships, aircraft and shops or to pay fees at his
automated teller machines.
Shun Tak owns the fleet of high-speed ferries that
operate 24 hours a day, taking gamblers on the one-hour, $16 trip between
Hong Kong and Macau.
STDM owns a stake in Air Macau, a regional
airline, as well as 100 percent of the second-biggest local bank, Seng Heng
Bank. Between them, STDM and Shun Tak own 80 percent of Macau's first-class
hotel rooms, Ho says.
Investors interested in Macau's gambling revenue may
have more options soon. In March, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange lifted a ban
on companies whose main business is gambling, provided that the companies do
not conduct gambling in Hong Kong.
Ho says he is prepared to go to the most unlikely
places to open casinos if he can get a license and make a profit. In 2000,
he spent $30 million to open the Casino Pyongyang, which is located across
the street from Kim Jong Il's Workers Party headquarters in the North Korean
capital. - William Mellor Bloomberg
News 21 July 2003
Macau Gambling tycoon STANLEY
HO has real estate investments in North America including the Sutton
Place Hotels in both Vancouver and Toronto
Dr.Ho is actively
involved in a strategic decision-making capacity for numerous companies. In
Hong Kong, he holds the positions of Group Executive Chairman of Shun Tak
Holdings Limited and Chairman of Melco International Development Limited and
President of The Real Estate Developers Assocation of Hong Kong. In Macau,
he is Managing Director of Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau,
S.A.R.L. and Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, S.A., Vice-Chairman of CAM - Macau
International Airport Company Limited, Chairman of Seng Heng Bank Limited,
and Chairman of Macau Jockey Club.
Apart from being the
holder of honorary doctorates of social sciences from The University of Hong
Kong and University of Macau, Dr.Ho also holds a number of key positions in
academic governance: Standing Committee Member, the 9th National Committee
of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference; President, The
Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong; Member, Court of The
University of Hong Kong; Member, Council of The University of Hong Kong;
Chairman, The University of Hong Kong Foundation for Educational Development
and Research; Vice-President, Preparatory Committee for the Macau Special
Administrative Region; Trustee, Foundation for the Co-operation and
Development of Macau; as well as Council Member, University of Macau.
Asian Gambling Kingpins Join
The families that control Asia's two
biggest casino empires have formed their first formal partnership -
after more than 40 years of rivalry.
Younger members of the Lim family, of
Genting fame, and the Ho family, of Macau fame, are using a
Singapore company in a small but significant deal that could be a
prelude to bigger things.
According to a casino industry executive,
the HK$10 million (S$2.2 million) tie-up, which involves Sesdaq-listed
Cyber Village, could point to a wider alliance between the gaming
And the executive isn't ruling out the
possibility of them joining forces to bid against US titans in what
could be the next big bet - a Singapore casino.
For now, Cyber Village will help develop a
customer loyalty programme for a company that handles slot machines
in the gambling enclave of Macau.
Cyber Village is linked to Justin Leong -
26-year-old grandson of Genting founder Lim Goh Tong - who is seen
as being groomed for a management role in the Genting gaming empire.
The Macau slot machine company is
controlled by Lawrence Ho - the eldest son of gambling king Stanley
Ho, who had a casino monopoly on Macau until 2002.
The contracts covering the tie-up were
awarded by Mr Lawrence Ho's Hong Kong-listed IT company Elixir and
wrapped up in the presence of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah
Ahmad Badawi in Cyberjaya at the weekend.
The Lim and Ho families have been seen as
rivals since Mr Ho rebuffed an offer from Mr Lim to jointly develop
Malaysia's Genting casino in the late 1960s.
Mr Lim, who retired this year, recalled in
his memoirs, published in 2000: 'I told him (Mr Ho) the purpose of
my visit. He responded with a smile without committing anything. I
knew what he meant. As I had not obtained the casino licence yet,
how could we talk about co-operation.'
The two octogenarians clashed a few years
ago when China opened the Macau casino market following the end of
Mr Ho's 40-year monopoly.
Mr Lim failed to secure one of the three
licences in the tender exercise. Mr Ho captured one licence while
the other two were awarded to heavyweights Galaxy Casino/Las Vegas
Sands and the Wynn Group.
Cyber Village has clinched a string of
jobs since Mr Leong and partners emerged as major shareholders in
March and launched a general offer.
These deals include one with Tan Chong
& Sons Motor to develop a portal-based vehicle sales, service
and order management system, and a venture to provide digital web-TV
to a subsidiary of China Netcom. Cyber Village's shares have jumped
36 per cent to 26.5 cents yesterday from 19.5 cents in March.
- by Eddie Toh in Kuala Lumpur SINGAPORE
8 Sept 2004
stock-trading platform provider iAsia Technology plans to strengthen
its broking operation by spending HK$126 million to acquire three
corporate finance companies partially owned by Cheung Kong
iAsia proposes to
fund the acquisition by raising HK$102 million through placement of
a rights issue and has appointed property and restaurant operator
Melco International Development as the underwriter.
Both iAsia and
Melco are headed by Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho and his son
According to the
companies' announcement, GEM-board listed iAsia plans to fully
acquire from CEF Holdings and CEF Brokerage Holdings, three
loss-making subsidiaries - CEF Brokerage, CEF Futures and CEF
(Holdings) and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce each hold a 50 per
cent stake in CEF, which is engaged in securities brokerage and
dealing business, futures and commodity trading and corporate
finance advisory services.
iAsia proposes to
complete the HK$126 million acquisition in cash, of which HK$102
million would be raised through a proposed issue of three shares for
every two existing shares, priced at 10 HK cents each.
The total number
of rights shares issued is expected to be no less than 1.02 billion
shares. Subscribers will also receive two bonus shares for every
proposed the placement of rights issue in a bid to avoid increasing
its gearing ratio, the company may still finance internally or
borrow from banks to fund the acquisition. The acquisition is still
subject to approval of shareholders.
of CFN companies is seen as a step to beefing up iAsia and Melco's
position in the financial services operation in Hong Kong, and
bringing iAsia a step closer to become a ``prominent player in the
regional financial services industry''.
``One of the
synergies of the acquisition is to allow iAsia to provide clients
with a more comprehensive range of financial services covering
online trading services and traditional fully fledged investment
banking securities services,'' the company announcement said, adding
that iAsia expected to increase revenue and development of new
technology products and services after the purchase.
proposed a name change to Value Convergence Holdings Limited after
the acquisition, to reflect the change in business nature.
iAsia has had net
losses of HK$84.44 million for its third quarter to June 30. The
company is 17.07 per cent held by Bailey Development and Golden
Mate, partially and fully owned by Stanley Ho and Lawrence Ho
Melco, which was
appointed as the underwriter for the rights issue, is 49.96 per cent
owned by the Ho clan. Existing businesses of Melco include property
investments and the floating seafood restaurant in Aberdeen.
iAsia and Melco have been suspended from trading since September 30.
Both counters will resume trading tomorrow.
- Joyce Li
14 October 2002