Stanley Ho family drama obscures bigger issues

With more characters than a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, Macau magnate Stanley Ho’s handover of his casino assets has the makings of a prime time soap opera. The spectacle of the families of four wives who bore Ho 17 children fighting over an estimated $3 billion dollar fortune promises compelling viewing.

But the saga is a glittering distraction from the more important story of what happens to Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM), the casino market leader in the world’s top gaming destination, and the rest of Ho’s empire without him. As I wrote in Asia Times, however the family drama plays out, it won’t resolve that question.

After initially stumbling in post-monopoly Macau, SJM has regained its overwhelming market leadership by following Ho’s business principles. Even while Ho has been sidelined since a late July 2009 fall at home, SJM has moved ahead. The key to its continued success seems to be less which faction wins control of the company but that the winners don’t get in the way of SJM management that seems to know what it’s doing.

Dispersing ownership widely, whether among two of his families or four of them, could be Stanley Ho’s way of ensuring that SJM isn’t dominated by someone who inherited the position. Whoever takes Ho’s place as Macau’s leading business figure will have to earn it.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: