Stanley Ho saga ends

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Billionaire Stanley Ho has been left with almost nothing after a 28.6 per cent stake in his company was transferred to his family members, making them the new shareholders.

Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho with his 3rd wife Chan Un-chan (right) and daughter Florinda (left)

Today, Mr Ho has been left with little stake in his Sociedade de Turismoe Diversoes de Macao SA, after a 28.6 per cent stake in the company was transferred to new shareholders.

Chan Un-chan, Mr. Ho’s 3rd wife, is reported to have received 50.5 per cent of these shares. The five siblings born to Lucina Laam Kinng-ying, his second wife – Pansy Ho, Daisy Ho, Maisy Ho, Josie Ho and Lawrence Ho – have split the reminding 49.5 per cent.

Mr Ho said the share restructuring had left him with “almost nothing.”

Mr Ho appeared on Hong Kong television on Wednesday to restate his decision to transfer shares in a company that controls SJM Holdings to the families of the two wives, saying all problems within the family have been resolved.

A daughter of his first wife, however, later said she “cannot believe” her father would leave her family with nothing.

Flanked by the woman he acknowledges as his 3rd wife and one of their daughters, the 89-year-old tycoon read a statement in Cantonese that was broadcast on Hong Kong’s Television Broadcasts.

Mr Ho said he was “very well”, and added he didn’t want to see his family problems ending up in court.

“The big problems have all been resolved,” Mr Ho said in a clear and slow voice, though at times he appeared to struggle to read his cue card. “My family and I are very happy on executing the plans. I do not hope to see any further changes,” he said.

The mogul from Macau didn’t take questions from the TVB reporter after reading the statement.

SJM shares, which were suspended on Tuesday, fell nearly 5% on wednesday.

Key figures

Li Wan Hua, also known as Clementine Leitao: Mr Ho’s 1st wife, who died in 2004 at the age of 80. Of Portuguese descent, she was well known for her striking looks.

Lucina Laam King-ying, 77: Mr Ho’s 2nd wife. Both Mr Ho and Mrs Laam shared a passion for ballroom dancing. In the 1980s Ho invested heavily in Canada and Laam emigrated there.

Chan Un-chan: Mr Ho’s 3rd wife. A nurse of his first wife, Mrs Chan is relatively low-key and has three children with him.

Angela Leong: Ho’s China-born 4th wife. Mrs Leong grew up in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and is now managing director of SJM’s operating subsidiary, where she plays a key day-to-day role in Mr Ho’s businesses. A former dance instructor, she first met Ho at a ball and their relationship later bloomed on the dance floor.

Pansy Ho: A businesswoman deemed one of the most powerful in Asia, Pansy Ho is often considered her father’s natural gambling heir. She is the managing director of Shun Tak Holdings, a property and transport conglomerate started by her father in 1972, is a director of STDM, and also manages the MGM Grand casino with MGM Mirage. She is a member of Beijing’s main consultative body, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Lawrence Ho: In his mid-30s, and often dressed in expensive suits, Lawrence Ho runs the City of Dreams mega casino on Macao’s Cotai strip. As the eldest son of Mr Ho, he’s sometimes seen as an heir apparent and runs the City of Dreams casino resort on Macao’s Cotai strip.

Reaction

The children of Ho’s deceased 1st wife, Clementina De Mello Leitao, were left out of the division of his assets, according to daughter Angela Ho.

Angelo Ho, a daughter of Mr Ho and his 1st wife, cast doubt over her father’s actions, however. “My father speaks to me often about how he intends to divide his estate evenly amongst his children and I therefore find statements and actions made and taken by his mistresses and their children, which do not conform to this wish, highly disconcerting and hurtful,” Ms Ho said in a written statement.

She said that her mother’s connections in Portugal and Macau were “the single biggest factor for my father winning the gambling monopoly in 1961”. Clementina Leitao married Mr Ho in 1948 and died in 2004. But, “Daddy never forgot her importance in the creation of the empire he presides over today,” Angela Ho said.

The saga

The developments marked the latest turn during three days in which the fate of a multi-billion-dollar gambling empire was called into question amid what appeared to be a family power struggle that showed deep fissures in the family of the ailing billionaire.

On Tuesday, opposing members of Mr Ho’s family brandished contradictory letters – purportedly signed by the patriarch – and publicly accused each other of trying to seize Mr Ho’s controlling 18 per cent stake in SJM Holdings, the Hong Kong-listed operator of his flagship Macau casinos.

Family Tree

Mr Ho has acknowledged 17 children from four different women. Mr Ho refers to his children’s mothers as his wives, though it is unclear which – if any – of them are legally married to the gambling mogul. These four families form the core of the continuing feud.

SJM Holdings didn’t respond to requests for comment. The company said in a regulatory filing that the quarrel wouldn’t affect its management or strategy.

Illness

Questions over Mr Ho’s legacy began when he fell ill in August 2009 and underwent brain surgery. He retreated from day-to-day management and began slowly doling out portions of his Byzantine holdings to his family.

“The recent stir over the Ho family has caused an uproar. I think it’s time to put an end to this,” Mr Ho said in the handwritten note. “Family matters should not involve lawyers, and suing one another in the courts is troublesome! I also hope the media will not misunderstand. My health is very good, and there’s no need for anyone to be concerned.”

In the other statement, Mr. Ho said his decision to divide the Lanceford stake was his alone. “Under no circumstances, did I receive any pressure or orders from anyone,” the statement said.

Mr Ho then appeared on television to affirm his decision.

The casino mogul couldn’t be reached for comment.

Angela Leong, during an interview with a local radio station, declined to comment on the latest power struggle but added that Mr Ho was in good health and clear-minded.

Other family members couldn’t be reached or declined to comment.

Representatives of Oldham, Li & Nie couldn’t be reached for comment.

Source: theaustralian, telegraph

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