Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stanley Ho

Stanley Ho, GBM, GLM, GBS, GML, OBE (born 25 November 1921), also known as Ho Hung Sun, Stanley Ho Hung Sun, is an entrepreneur in Hong Kong and Macau. Ho is sometimes nicknamed "The King of Gambling", reflecting the government-granted monopoly he held of the Macau gambling industry for 40 years. In 2011 he was the 13th richest man in Hong Kong with a net worth of US$2 billion. He is also Macau's wealthiest person and amongst the wealthiest in Asia. He owns many properties in both Hong Kong and Macau and has taken part in many kinds of business including entertainment, tourism, shipping, real estate, banking, and air transport. It is also estimated that his enterprises employ almost one fourth of the workforce of Macau.

Apart from Hong Kong and Macau, he has also invested in mainland China, Portugal, North Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Mozambique and East Timor.

Ho is also an industrialist and entrepreneur in Asia and has held a number of important positions in many firms in Hong Kong and Macau. His opinions and statements on Hong Kong's real estate and commercial development have considerable sway on the market. In the past few years he has been involved in litigation with his own sister, Winnie Ho, concerning the ownership of the Macau casino. Having suffered a stroke in July 2009, followed by a long period of recovery, Ho began steps in late 2010, subsequently hotly disputed and in confusing circumstances (January 2011), to devolve his grip on his financial empire to various of his wives and children.

Early life
Ho Fook , Stanley Ho's grandfather, was a brother of Robert Hotung. Ho Sai Kwong, one of Ho Fook's sons, had 13 children, of which Stanley was the 9th child.

Although his family was very wealthy, he started his business on his own. When he was 13 years old, his father lost a vast sum of money in the stock market crash and went bankrupt. Consequently, Ho's two elder brothers committed suicide, and his father abandoned the family, leaving him with his two elder sisters and his mother.

Ho studied at Queen's College, Hong Kong, at which he attended Class D owing to unsatisfactory academic results. After realizing that studying assiduously was the only way to improve his social status, his hard work paid off and earned him a scholarship to the University of Hong Kong. He became the first student from Class D to be granted a university scholarship. However, he was unable to finish his university study because of the outbreak of World War II. In 1942, he fled the Japanese to Macau.

Ho began clerical work at a Japanese-owned import-export firm in Macau. With his talents and command of four languages, he won the trust of his employers and quickly became a partner of the firm, at the age of 22.

Ho made his first fortune smuggling luxury goods across the Chinese border from Macau during World War II, according to Joe Studwell's book "Asian Godfathers". In the same text there are very clear references that point to criminal activities directly related to cronyism and political manipulation. Stanley Ho collaborated with the Japanese during occupation in Hong Kong and also cooperated with the PRC Communists during the Cold War. An unnamed source also claims he was seated at the head of the ballrooms during official ceremonies in colonial Hong Kong, a fact that could be explained by his cooperation with the Japanese during the occupation.

In 1943, he set up a kerosene company and established a construction company with his money. As the construction industry in Hong Kong was experiencing a period of rapid growth, Ho profited greatly.

Ho, along with partners, including Hong Kong tycoon the late Henry Fok, renowned Macau gambler the late Yip Hon and his brother-in-law the late Teddy Yip, bid for Macau franchises. By bidding high and promising to promote tourism and to develop infrastructure, they won the public tender for Macau's gaming monopoly at a cost of approximately (US?)$410,000[clarification needed], defeating the longtime Macau casino barons, the Fu family. In 1961, the company was renamed Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, S.A.R.L. (STDM). Business at its flagship Lisboa Casino Hotel blossomed, the hotel later to become well-known internationally.

In the same year, Ho also set up Shun Tak Holdings Ltd, which was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Through a subsidiary, TurboJET, it owns one of the world's largest fleets of high-speed jetfoils, which ferries passengers between Hong Kong and Macau.

Ho's investments in Macau are diverse. In 1989, after STDM took full control of the Macau Jockey Club, Ho became its chairman and chief executive officer. In 1998, Ho became the first living Macanese resident to have a local street named after him. He also launched Asia's first football and basketball lottery called SLOT. Ho also launched the web site, an online casino operated in partnership with Vancouver-based

Ho was also named by the Canadian Government, citing the Manila Standard newspaper, as having a link to the Kung Lok Triad (Chinese mafia) and as being linked to 'several illegal activities'. during the period 1999–2002. Ho's ties to Chinese organised crime have also been reported by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, citing a U.S. Senate committee and several government agencies, when the state investigated his ties to American casino operator MGM Mirage.

In 1987, Portugal agreed to return Macau to China in 1999. Ho took part in the joint advisory committee. He is a Standing Committee member of the 9th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

    * Member of the Selection Committee for the first Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
    * Member of the Consultative Committee for the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR

Personal life
Ho has 17 children born to four different women. He refers to his children's mothers as his wives. Polygamy remained legal in Hong Kong until 1971. Also, he was rumoured to have numerous undisclosed relationships.

In 1942, Ho married his first wife, Clementina Leitao, a woman from a prestigious Portuguese family – her grandfather was a lawyer and was Macau's only notary public at the time. They had four children. In the late 1950s, Ho met Lucina Laam King-ying, whom he legally married in Hong Kong, in 1962. Leitao was involved in a motor vehicle accident in 1973, and suffered partial memory loss as a result. Following her car accident, Leitao needed constant nursing care; Ina Chan, who became Ho's third 'wife' in 1985 and with whom Ho has had three children, was one of the nurses brought in to look after her. In 1981, Ho's and Leitao's son Robert and daughter-in-law, Melanie Susan Potier ("Suki"), died in a car accident; Leitao died in 2004. Fourth 'wife' Angela Leong On-kei, with whom Ho has had five children, met Ho in 1988 at a private ball.[7]

Ho handed over the reins of STDM to daughter Pansy Ho, who is also a 50 percent partner in MGM Macau; son Lawrence Ho is the CEO of Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, another Macau-based casino company. Josie Ho is a rock singer and award-winning actress. His grandchildren are a perennial subject of local social columns and paparazzi.

Over the years, dancing has been one of Ho's favourite hobbies, achieving excellence in tango, cha-cha-cha, and waltz. He often danced for televised charity fundraisers and has sponsored numerous dance performances in Hong Kong and Macau, including the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the Macau Arts Festival, promoting the art of dance. He has also invited internationally renowned dancing groups, such as the National Ballet of China, to perform in Hong Kong and Macau. Ho is a patron of the Hong Kong Ballet, the International Dance Teachers Association and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Dance.

A thoroughbred racehorse owner, one of Ho's runners, Viva Pataca, named after the currency of Macau, won several top Hong Kong races in 2006 and 2007.

Ho suffered a fall late in July 2009 at his home and required brain surgery as a result. For seven months Ho was confined to the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital and, later, the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, making only one public appearance on 20 December 2009, when he travelled to Macau to meet Chinese president Hu Jintao on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Macau's return to Chinese sovereignty. Ho was discharged from the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital on 6 March 2010 and has since used a wheelchair.

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