Macau gambling king Stanley Ho, one of Asia’s richest men, will retire as chairman of SJM Holdings at the forthcoming annual general meeting on June 12, the casino operator said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse late on Thursday.
Ho, 96, will stay on as chairman emeritus to the company and hand over the reins of the business to his daughter, Daisy Ho, who is already on the company’s board.
Meanwhile, his fourth wife Angela Leong and Timothy Fok, son of Stanley Ho’s former business partner Henry Fok, will be appointed co-chairmen and executive directors.
“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,” SJM said.
Gaming revenues in Macau were hit hard by a corruption crackdown launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2012, but SJM is trying to lure visitors back to Macau with the sprawling new Grand Lisboa Palace complex, reportedly due to open in 2019.
But despite current struggles, the flamboyant tycoon remains one of Hong Kong’s best known businessmen.
His swashbuckling corporate deal making style transformed Macau from a sleepy peninsula dotted with seedy, windowless gambling dens into the world’s biggest casino centre.
He is the great-nephew of one of Asia’s first tycoons, Robert Hotung, who was among Hong Kong’s wealthiest individuals at the turn of the 20th century.
He made his fortune smuggling luxury goods into China from Macau during World War II, before securing the only gaming licence in the then-Portuguese colony in 1962.
The billionaire monopolised the gaming industry until 2002, when the government introduced foreign investors, sparking a boom which saw casino takings contribute around 80 percent of the city’s annual revenue.
Last June, Ho stepped down as chairman of Hong Kong conglomerate Shun Tak Holdings Ltd, with his daughter Pansy Ho taking over the position.
Ho first married in 1942 but has subsequently had three other partners, though it is unclear whether or not he married all the women he called wives.
The keen ballroom dancer cultivated a playboy lifestyle, fathering at least 17 children, one of whom, Lawrence, runs rival casino and hotel operator Melco Crown in Macau.