Stanley Ho Announces Resignation from SJM Holdings Ltd

Friday, April 13th, 2018 | Written by April Bergman
Stanley Ho Announces Resignation from SJM Holdings Ltd

96-year old billionaire Stanley Ho is retiring from his top role at SJM Holdings Ltd. and from active business life altogether. After 7 decades helping to sculpt Hong Kong and Macau’s business community, he is turning over his casino company to his wife and children.

Stanley Ho announced he would step down as SJM Holdings’ chairman and executive director after a June 12 shareholders meeting. He will retain the position of chairman emiritus, but remove himself from day-to-day operations.

Daisy Ho, Stanley’s 53-year old daughter and longtime SJM executive, will take over Ho’s roles as chairperson and executive director. Angela Leong, Stanley Ho’s 57-year old second wife, will be co-chair. Another executive director will take Ho’s place on the board.

SJM Holdings Ltd.’s stock jumped as much as 11% on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange after the announcement, the largest one-day increase in shares in 3 years. Investors long had signaled they wanted clarity in the company’s leadership. Even now, some will not like the complicated co-chair structure, but the move gives investors a clearer picture of the post-Stanley Ho era.

JPMorgan Chase Analysis

D.S. Kim, an analyst for JPMorgan Chase & Co., said of the executive restructuring, “While 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. This complicated structure, in our view, leaves room for a potential power tussle within the board, given the lack of clear control.”

Sociedade de Turismo e Diversees de Macau (STDM)

In 1962, Macau resident and construction company owner Stanley Ho founded Sociedade de Turismo e Diversees de Macau, S.A.R.L. (STDM), the first casino company in the history of the (then) Portuguese colony of Macau. Ho’s partners were Macau businessman Teddy Yip, his brother-in-law and notable Macau gambler, Yip Hon, and Hong Kong business tycon Henry Fok.

Together, the four men built Lisboa Casino Hotel. In the days when Macau was still a colony, the Lisboa Hotel became an internationally famous casino resort. Over the next three decades, STDM became a lucrative business and Stanley Ho built a business empire in Macau.

Stanley Ho: The King of Gambling

One of his key businesses was Shun Tak Holdings Ltd., the owner of TurboJET. TurboJET organized the world’s largest high-speed jetfoil fleet, which ferried Hong Kong residents to Macau for business, tourist, and gaming trips. TurboJET built a link between Macau and Hong Kong, roughly 38 miles across the South China Sea.

By the time Stanley Ho bought the Macau Jockey Club in 1989, he was known in China as “The King of Gambling”. In 2008, Stanley Ho took Sociedade de Turismo e Diversees de Macau’s casino subsidisary, SJM Holdings Ltd., on to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. After Macau reverted to China in 1999 and the city’s casino industry began opening billion-dollar integrated casino resorts in the 21st century, SJM Holdings became the most lucrative part of the Ho’s business empire.

DS Kim on STM Holdings’ Operations

DS Kim said he would like to see SJM Holdings simplify its corporate structure further. He would like to see the company have a single chairperson. The company opens its first Cotai Peninsula property next year — to be called the Grand Lisboa Palace. The opening on the Cotai Strip will bring Macau’s oldest casino company into the most lucrative and grandest part of the city’s casino industry and give is a 21st century integrated casino-resort to compete with its 5 great rivals in Macau.

At one time, the Lisboa Hotel Casino was the city’s most famous casino. In the past 15 years, Galaxy Entertainment Group’s Galaxy Macau, Las Vegas Sands’ Venetian Macau, and Melco’s City of Dreams Macau each have surpassed the Lisboa in opulence. MGM Resorts built MGM Macau and MGM Cotai, while Wynn Resorts has Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace.

Stanley Ho’s Children

Stanley Ho legacy might be his business-savvy children as much as his casino holdings. 55-year old daughter Pansy Ho serves as the managing director of Shun Tak Holdings, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau (STDM), and Stanley Ho’s other businesses in Hong Kong and Macau. Due to investigations of Canadian authorities of Stanley Ho’s long-rumored connections to Macau’s organized crime, Pansy Ho’s role on the MGM Resorts board — a Stanley Ho business partner at the time — caused issues with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement in 2011.

Pansy Ho left the MGM Resorts board, while the DGE suspended MGM Resorts from Atlantic City gaming for 5 years — which sold 50% stake in Borgata to Boyd Gaming, which was the managing partner until 2016. At the time in 2011, Pansy Ho removed herself from the casino business and her sister, Daisy, was raised to prominence. Daisy Ho became an SJM Holdings executive in 2011. Daisy Ho has overseen the construction of the Grand Lisboa Palace in Macau.

Josie Ho, the 43-year old daughter of Stanley Ho, is an actress who has starred in films like Exiled and Dream Home. She also founded the production company 852 Films.

Lawrence Ho: Melco Resorts

Meanwhile, Stanley Ho’s 41-year old son, Lawrence Ho, has become a billionaire casino mogul in his own right. Lawrence Ho formed Melco Crown alongside Australian media legend, Kerry Packer, in 2004. The two built Melco’s iconic City of Dreams Macau at the time. After Kerry Packer’s death, Melco Crown continued as a joint venture between casino princelings Lawrence Ho and James Packer for the better part of 10 years — with Lawrence Ho as the controlling partner.

After Crown Resorts troubles with the Chinese government in 2016, Crown sold most of its shares in Melco. Lawrence Ho bought out a number of the company’s large stakeholders at the time, then renamed the company Melco Resorts International. Melco now owns Studio City and Altira Hotel in Macau, while also owning City of Dreams Manila in the Philippines. Melco is planning the City of Dreams Mediterranean in Cyprus, while another of Lawrence Ho’s companies owns Tigre de Cristal near Vladivostok, Russia.

Lawrence Ho has said he plans to bid on a casino license in Japan, claiming he would pay “whatever it takes” to gain a license in Osaka or Tokyo. At a time last year, it was reported Stanley and Lawrence Ho were discussing a joint venture to build a casino in Sochi, Russia, though it is unknown whether Stanley Ho’s resignation at SJM Holdings means those talks have ended. Whatever the case, Stanley Ho has a 56-year reign of success, along with several heirs to his casino legacy.