Gaming and property tycoon Stanley Ho is joining the ranks of Hong Kong’s retired billionaires, after announcing that he will step down as chairman of Macau casino operator SJM Holdings.
The retirement of the 96-year-old magnate, who also founded property and shipping firm Shun Tak Holdings, will take effect after the annual general meeting scheduled on June 12, the gaming conglomerate said in a filing to Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The tycoon’s daughter Daisy Ho will take the helm at SJM, while the elder Ho will be appointed chairman emeritus of the company following his retirement.
The news comes after Hong Kong’s wealthiest individual Li Ka-shing announced last month he would be stepping down as chairman of his property-driven empire, including his roles at the head of CK Asset Holdings and CK Hutchison Holdings.
Game Over for Casino Mogul
“Dr. Ho has justifiably been acknowledged as the founding father of Macau’s gaming industry, which has for some time been the largest in the world in terms of revenue. Under Dr. Ho’s visionary leadership, the company and its subsidiaries achieved a significant growth in the past decade,” said So Shu Fai, chief executive of SJM in the statement.
“The Board expresses its sincere gratitude to Dr. Ho for his invaluable contributions in building a solid foundation for the company’s continuing growth in the future.”
The company said it will name Timothy Fok, son of tycoon Henry Fok, and Ho’s “fourth wife” Angela Leong as co-chairmen and executive directors of SJM. Leong is the second-largest shareholder in the firm.
Born in Hong Kong in 1921, Ho, known as the “King of Gambling,” made his fortune during World War II by smuggling luxury goods into mainland China from Macau, before acquiring the gambling monopoly in the then-Portuguese colony in 1962. Ho held the monopoly until 2002 when the local government introduced foreign players to Macau, now a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China.
The tycoon also founded Shun Tak Holdings in 1972. Listed in Hong Kong, the conglomerate owns commercial properties in the city including Shun Tak Centre in Sheung Wan and The Westwood in Sai Wan. Ho left his position as chairman of the company last June, succeeded by his daughter Pansy Ho.
Ho’s Property-Loving Consort Steps Up
Ho’s flamboyant love life has attracted as much interest in Hong Kong and Macau as his outsize business achievements. The magnate has had four “wives,” including two women he married before 1971, when polygamy was still legal in Hong Kong, and two subsequent partners he did not formally marry.
The prolific liaisons have blessed Ho with 17 children — the oldest being 71 years old and the youngest just 18 years old. His fourth partner Leong, the newly-appointed co-chair of SJM, owns a large property portfolio in Greater China and is an elected Macau legislator.
Leong is believed to have purchased a historic building in London’s Midtown district for around £250 million ($338 million) last September.