Tuesday, December 1, 2015   

Ho's empire stretches from gambling to graves

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

From the moment tourists board a plane or ferry to Macau - maybe to dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant or try out the world's highest urban bungee jump - they put money into the pockets of billionaire Stanley Ho Hung-sun.

And that's before they hit the casinos.

Ho's family businesses cover virtually every facet of Macau's economy. Even with competition from Las Vegas rivals, his empire takes more than 50 US cents (HK$3.90) of every US dollar bet in the city.

The privately held Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau, of which Ho owns 31.7 percent, is the city's largest private employer, providing jobs to everyone from casino dealers to race track stable boys to sommeliers at the three-Michelin-star Robuchon a Galera.


It owns a 33 percent stake in Macau International Airport, and 14 percent of Air Macau.

Hong Kong-listed unit Shun Tak Holdings dominates the ferry and helicopter services to Hong Kong, and operates the bus services to the mainland.

Ho, ranked Hong Kong's 13th- richest man with a net worth of US$3.1 billion, also earns money from One Central, a complex of seven 40-story luxury apartment blocks, and the Mandarin Oriental Macau hotel.

In a city that imports almost everything, STDM has stakes in container ports and built a bridge connecting the Macau peninsula to an island with the airport.

Casinos remain the heart of Ho's empire: SJM Holdings, a unit of STDM, runs 20 of Macau's 33 casinos.

"You can't find another city where a single family has such a high concentration in an industry that accounts for 40 percent of GDP." Gabriel Chan, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group, told Bloomberg.

"And you can find their footprint in the other 60 percent as well."

Revenue also flows to Ho through his horse-racing track, run by the Macau Jockey Club, and the Canidrome greyhound-racing arena. Thrill seekers can ascend the city's tallest building, Shun Tak's 338-meter Macau Tower, which sits on land reclaimed by STDM, and then skywalk or launch themselves off a bungee plunge.

And soon, even in death, there'll be no escape from the reach of Ho's empire: Shun Tak plans to build a columbarium on an island south of the city.

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