Posts Tagged ‘Stanley Ho’

Macau moguls rise on Forbes Hong Kong Rich List

January 30, 2017

Kung hei fat choi! The year of the monkey saw Macau casino owners rise on the Forbes Hong Kong Rich List. They hope to keep crowing in the year of the rooster, the birth sign of Macau gambling’s godfather Stanley Ho, with two children and a wife on the rich list.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

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MGM takeover stamps US casino reversal

June 15, 2016

New Jersey once ordered MGM to sell its half of Atlantic City’s Borgata over an “unsuitable Macau partner.” Now MGM taking full control of the best in market casino resort shows that US regulators have accepted Macau standards of probity, rather than lifting other jurisdictions to higher standards.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Macau casino moguls lose big again

January 20, 2016

Forbes’ Hong Kong rich list for 2016 shows that Macau casino owners’ net worth fell billions due to the global gaming capital’s slump.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

License expiration looms for Macau casinos

September 8, 2015

Along with falling revenue and billions invested in property expansion, license expiration threatens Macau casinos. In this game, authorities in Beijing and Macau hold all the cards.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Sands Macao transformed Macau, Adelson, world

May 13, 2014

The future of the global casino business, Sheldon Adelson and Macau began on May 18, 2004, the day they broke down the doors for the opening of Sands Macao.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Macau Studio City puts Lawrence Ho center stage

June 24, 2011

Bulletin: My interview on Macau’s TDM Talk Show will be televised on its Portuguese channel on Saturday, July 2 at 8pm (Macau/Hong Kong/China time; Saturday 8am US Eastern time) and be repeated Sunday night/Monday morning at 12.30 am. After the initial airing, you can watch it on the TDM website TDM Talk Show link. Hope you’ll tune in for my talk (in English) with Natalya Molok about Macau gaming, Hong Kong On Air, and Writing Camp.

Taking control of the long idle Macau Studio City project has turned heads Lawrence Ho’s way. Ho’s Melco Crown has long been viewed as a logical party to buy out one of the project’s feuding partners since it agreed to operate the Studio City casino back in 2007. But the timing of the US$360 million deal surprised gaming industry observers far and wide.

As I wrote in Asia Times, the acquisition has won a lot of respect for Ho. Getting Macau Studio City out of Hong Kong’s courts and back into construction is sure to please the Macau government. The key challenge for Stanley Ho’s highest profile son in the casino business is to build a winning property that could make him as big a player as anyone in Macau. Ho’s Altira and City of Dreams efforts have been less than overwhelming successes, but analysts believe he will do better this time. He probably shouldn’t get another chance if Macau Studio City lays an egg.

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.

Stanley Ho family drama obscures bigger issues

January 27, 2011

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.

Sands China rolls 7-8 craps in Macau

December 10, 2010

Bulletin: My blog entry Twenty reasons Barack Obama stinks has been nominated for the 3QuarksDaily Prize in Politics. Please vote here if you enjoy the piece. First prize is $1000, and, of course, a quark. So please vote now.

Macau aims to diversify its gambling-addicted economy, a course Beijing urges at every opportunity, as the city’s gaming revenue climbs beyond $2 billion a month. Last week, Macau rejected Sands China’s bid for Lots 7 and 8 to build a new casino resort in the Cotai entertainment district. But Macau’s decision may have no connection to economic diversification.

A subsidiary of US-based Las Vegas Sands, Sands China has spearheaded efforts to create an Asian version of the Las Vegas Strip in Cotai, a landfill connecting Macau’s outer islands of Coloane and Taipa. Following its $12 billion master plan, Sands China has already opened the Venetian Macao, and the Four Seasons/Plaza complexes, and has another 6,400 room casino resort under construction. Sands China says it invested more than $160 million in Lots 7 and 8 based on an informal grant from the Macau government several years ago.

In tiny Macau, land is the most valuable commodity, and the government controls it. Formal approval for land concessions in Macau routinely comes long after the designated developer begins work. Sands China has every right to feel that it got a raw deal. It has appealed the decision to Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on. The company could also take its case to court. But in Macau, where matters are habitually decided behind closed doors and without public explanations – news about Lots 7 and 8 came from Sands China, not the government – it’s tough to beat the house.

Losing Lots 7 and 8 hurts Sands China but, as I wrote in Asia Times, the meaning for Macau is far less clear. Denying the application seems to be a move to limit future gaming, but it’s likely that the land will be granted to one of Sands China’s rivals to build its own casino resort.

Macau’s government may have a grudge against Sand China, even though it’s the casino developer that provides the most diverse non-gaming amenities at its resorts, including shopping malls, a 15,000 seat arena, a Cirque du Soleil production, and a 1,000,000 square foot convention center, all money losers to date. Macau added insult to injury by staging an unprecedented vice raid Friday at the Venetian Macao during a visit by Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, who reportedly has a rocky relationship with government leaders.

Or Macau could be signaling it will limit growth for outsiders, defined as anyone not named Ho – as in local gambling godfather Stanley Ho. Ho and his children have stakes in three of Macau’s six casino licenses.

The saga of Lots 7 and 8 unmistakably illustrates that Macau’s unelected, unaccountable government can and will act arbitrarily. Smart investors will understand that hard reality trumps Macau’s glittering casino revenue numbers.

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.

MGM ‘lion’ picks Macau over Atlantic City

March 19, 2010

A couple of years ago, I visited Atlantic City to write a feature as a special correspondent for Macau Business magazine. My only previous visit to Atlantic City had been to try out for Jeopardy about 15 years earlier, when I took the test, ate the buffet at Merv Griffin’s hotel (Merv also produced Jeopardy), and drove straight home.

Atlantic City was depressing back then, like the Louis Malle film of the same name, and it was still sad when I returned. The few bright spots included Angelo’s Fairmont Tavern, a red brick Italian restaurant with great fish and a signed photo of Frank Sinatra over the bar; The Quarter, a Cuban themed mall at The Tropicana, though the hotel had been seized by regulators en route to its third owner in about as many years after a bankruptcy; and Borgata, the newest, biggest and fanciest casino in town that brought Las Vegas style and customers under 60 to Atlantic City.

Last week, MGM Mirage announced that it would sell its 50 percent stake in Borgata to settle a five year long probe by New Jersey casino regulators into its Macau partnership with Pansy Ho, the daughter of Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho. State investigators deemed the younger Ho an “unsuitable” partner for MGM. In the wake of that finding, MGM chose Macau over Atlantic City and kept its partnership with Pansy Ho, as I wrote in Asia Times.

“Absolutely the right decision for MGM,” IGamiX managing partner Ben Lee told me. “Asia is a short, medium and long term growth story. The States is a mature market. If MGM gave up Macau, they would find it extremely difficult to get back in again, and nobody in Asia would ever take them seriously after that.”

The kicker is the report from New Jersey investigators skewers MGM for ignoring its own findings about Stanley Ho’s underworld ties and his relationship with Pansy Ho, and for being less than forthright with casino regulators. The report gives a whole new meaning to MGM lion besides that 63 ton bronze sculpture of Leo outside the MGM Grand Macau.

But MGM doesn’t seem to think its dishonesty matters, even though it runs highly regulated businesses in several other jurisdictions, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and hopes to get another stock listing in Hong Kong this year. MGM acts as if its settlement with New Jersey puts that corporate duplicity, now in plain public view, behind it; instead, perhaps the report should lead investors and regulators ask, “If MGM lied to New Jersey, how can we be sure it’s not lying to us?” Otherwise MGM’s roaring deceit and arrogance will keep paying off.

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.


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