Profit soars almost 68% at Macau tycoon Ho’s casino


AFP

HONG KONG — The Macau casino giant owned by tycoon Stanley Ho saw net profit almost quadruple last year, the firm said, days after a family feud over his multibillion dollar empire was settled. Ho’s flagship Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) saw a net profit of HK$3.56 billion (US$456 million), up from HK$907 million in 2009, while revenue soared almost 68 percent to HK$57.65 billion, it said in an annual report Wednesday. The strong results come less than a week after 89-year-old Ho announced he had ended a bitter legal dispute with family members he had accused of trying to steal his gaming empire, estimated to be worth at least US$3.1 billion.

Ho said he had dropped a high-profile lawsuit against some of the members of his sprawling clan, comprised of 17 children born to four women whom he refers to as his wives. He did not reveal details of the settlement. The casino tycoon, considered the father of Macau’s booming casino scene, had previously accused various relatives, including some of his children, of trying to win control of SJM through a bogus share transfer. Ho enjoyed a four-decade monopoly on Macau’s casinos until licenses were issued to foreign rivals in the past decade, including major Las Vegas players. Since then, the former Portuguese colony, which is the only city in China that allows casino gambling, has become the world’s biggest gaming hub with US$23.5 billion wagered at its tables last year. That growth has largely been fuelled by mainland Chinese visitors. “SJM continued to lead in market share of the Macau casino gaming market, with 40.1 percent of mass market table gaming revenue and 29.5 percent of VIP gaming revenue,” the firm’s annual report said. The company said its overall share of Macau’s casino sector grew to 31.3 percent last year, up from 29.4 percent in 2009. However, the Hong Kong-listed SJM shares were down 1.3 percent in morning trade on Thursday. The firm added that its future prospects were “excellent, given continued robust growth of visitation and spending in Macau, (and) the general prosperity of the Asian region”. It discounted the impact of new gaming facilities being built by rivals on Macau’s Cotai Strip given that its casinos were “largely concentrated” in another part of the city. But SJM also said it was waiting for government approval for a plan to develop a site on Cotai as it expands its business.