Sat, Apr 14, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Stanley Ho cedes empire to heirs

TRADING BOOST:SJM shares yesterday jumped by 11 percent as investors have been eager for the company to streamline its convoluted management structure


Stanley Ho (何鴻燊) is to become the latest Hong Kong billionaire to step away from the empire he built, passing along the top roles at casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd (澳門博彩控股) to his heirs. Analysts are watching to see how smooth the transition will be.

The 96-year-old Macau casino tycoon is to retire as chairman and executive director of SJM after a June 12 shareholders’ meeting, a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange said on Thursday.

He is to become chairman emeritus, while Daisy Ho (何超鳳), his 53-year-old daughter, is to take on his roles. Angela Leong (梁安琪), 57, Ho’s wife and SJM’s second-largest shareholder, is to act as cochair with another executive director, the statement said.

SJM’s shares yesterday jumped as much as 11 percent, the most in three years, in early trading in Hong Kong amid a rally in casino stocks. Investors have been eager for the company to simplify its convoluted management structure, though the succession plan still leaves the casino operator with a chairman and two cochairs.

“While [Stanley] Ho hasn’t been involved in the operations for many years, we can’t help but think that the proposed board structure is a bit messy,” JPMorgan Chase & Co analyst DS Kim said in a note. “This complicated structure, in our view, leaves room for a potential power tussle within the board, given the lack of clear control.”

Kim is looking for a clearer plan, such as a single chairperson, to fine-tune SJM’s corporate structure before the opening of the operator’s first property in Macau’s key Cotai district next year.

Stanley Ho’s move follows the retirement of Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-Shing (李嘉誠), last month. While Li, 89, stayed close to the business operations of CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd (長和集團) and CK Asset Holdings Ltd (長江實業) before his retirement, Stanley Ho for years has not participated significantly in his businesses or attended public events.

Daisy Ho joined SJM as executive director in June last year. Leong, who successfully fended off a messy family dispute in 2011 that was mounted by family members, has been managing the casino operator for years.

Stanley Ho’s son Lawrence Ho (何猷龍) is chief executive officer of casino operator Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd (新濠博亞娛樂).

Stanley Ho built his casino business with the help of a four-decade monopoly and growing numbers of gamblers who emerged from China’s economic expansion, turning Macau into the world’s biggest gambling hub.

However, SJM has lost ground to its peers, with Las Vegas Sands Corp’s Macau unit and Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd (銀河娛樂) surpassing SJM’s gaming revenue as they provided more entertainment offerings to leisure gamblers and tourists.

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