International edition
October 26, 2021

After two big surgeries

Casino tycoon Stanley Ho is recovering, his son says

(Macau).- Macau casino billionaire Stanley Ho, who’s been hospitalized for the past four months, is “recovering nicely” and may be discharged soon, his son Lawrence said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

Hopefully some time soon he can come out of the hospital,” Lawrence Ho said. “It’s been a few months since his accident. He had two pretty big surgeries.” The son didn’t specify what the operations were for.

Ho, 88, controls SJM Holdings Ltd., the casino operator with the biggest market share in Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub. He has never announced a successor and neither SJM nor Shun Tak Holdings Ltd., the ferry operator and property developer he chairs, has made a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange on his condition.

“It’s quite abnormal for Dr. Ho to stay behind the scenes for such a long time,” Steven Leung, director of institutional sales at UOB-Kay Hian Ltd. in Hong Kong, said in a phone interview.

The billionaire had said in a June e-mail to Bloomberg News he was healthy and had no plans to retire. Janet Wong, his spokeswoman, didn’t return earlier calls or e-mails seeking an update on his condition since she said in an August 13 e-mailed statement that reports of Ho having had a stroke were “unfounded.”

SJM fell 0.2 % in Hong Kong trading, trimming its gain this year to 151 %. Melco International Holdings Ltd., controlled by Lawrence Ho, declined 1.7 %, paring its 2009 climb to 53 %.

Casino gambling revenue in Macau may rise 8 % this year as global economies recover, Lawrence Ho said in the December 4 interview. “Macau is back on track,” he said, after official figures showed third-quarter casino gambling revenue increased 22 % to us$ 4 billion, the first growth in a year.

The city’s casino revenue climbed more than 6 % in the first 11 months of this year, compared with the same period in 2008, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported December 1, citing data from the operators. Gross revenue in November was higher than us$ 1.5 billion, with full-year earnings likely to reach a record of more than us$ 14.7 billion, Lusa said.

Ho’s four-decade casino monopoly in Macau ended after the government in 2001 accepted bids for rival operators. Six casino companies, including SJM, Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd. eventually won permission to operate in the former Portuguese colony, the only place in China where casinos are legal.

Ho has fathered 17 children by four women. Lawrence Ho, his oldest surviving son, is chief executive officer of Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd., a joint venture between his company and with Australian billionaire James Packer that is one of the operators permitted to run casinos in Macau.

Melco Crown opened its us$ 2.1 billion City of Dreams casino in June across from Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s Venetian on Macau’s Cotai Strip.

The company has another piece of land where it could build another 92,903 sqm hotel or apartments, with more space for casinos, Ho said. That would be the third phase for the City of Dreams, which opened in two phases. The property consists of a 39,019 sqm casino and 1,400 hotel rooms.

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