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Grand Lisboa Palace on track to open this year

Thu, Jun 13, 2:15pm by Staff Writer

Construction of Grand Lisboa Palace, the first Cotai resort for Macau casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd will be completed this year, as the firm had flagged, but the timing of the opening of the property depends on it receiving necessary local government approvals.

GGR Asia reports that SJM Holding’s chairman and executive director Daisy Ho Chiu Fung made the remarks at the company’s annual general meeting in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

She added that “currently” more than 90 per cent of the building work had been completed.

In late May, brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein ltd said in a note it “would not be surprised” if Grand Lisboa Palace only opened in time for summer 2020.

Ms Ho – a daughter of the firm’s founder Stanley Ho Hung Sun – added in response to media questions on Tuesday that the United States-China trade war had an impact on SJM Holdings’ VIP gambling business in Macau.

But she noted it had also affected the firm’s five competing licence-holders in that market.

She further observed that her firm had nonetheless seen “high single-digit” percentage growth in mass gambling in April and May; understood to be a reference to gross gaming revenue expansion judged year-on-year.

SJM Holdings was looking to strengthen its performance in that segment, and expected its gaming income to stabilize in the second half of this year, she added.

Ms Ho was also asked about the gaming brand’s interest in a Japanese casino licence.

Arnaldo Ho Yau Heng, the director and assistant chief operating officer of Sociedade de Jojos de Macau SA, the Macau-registered operating unit of SJM Holdings – recently gave a presentation in Tokyo on the brand’s potential value in expanding inbound tourism to Japan.

Mr Arnaldo Ho is a half-sibling of Ms Daisy Ho.

She said in her comments last Tuesday that the group had sent a team to Japan to study opportunities there, but that no firm details – such as the possible host city for an SJM-led resort – could be disclosed at the moment.

At Tuesday’s annual general meeting, Henry Cheng Kar Shun – whose late father Cheng Yu Tung was a long time business associate of Stanley Ho – ceased to be a non-executive director of the company.

He had been a non-executive director since 2013.

The Cheng family made their money from jewelry retailing but also founded Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, a private firm that has invested in casino schemes in Macau, Australia and Vietnam.

At Tuesday’s SJM Holdings meeting, Patrick Tsang On Yip, chief executive and director of Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, joined the SJM Holdings board as a non-executive director,

He is also an in-law of Mr Henry Cheng, being married to the latter’s niece, Selena Sun.

SJM’s Macau licenses up for renewal

Macau’s gambling hub is known for its flashy casinos and bright lights, but also a powerful family dynasty.

97-year-old Stanley Ho is the patriarch of SJM Holdings Ltd and trouble is brewing among his 17 children about who has a controlling interest in the company.

Ho became known as the ‘king of gambling’ after he build Macau’s first casino in 1962.

He became a billionaire from his 40-year monopoly in the city but over time, his tricky family life have made succession planning a tricky business.

In recent weeks, the children from his second wife, Lucina Laam, have forged an alliance with another group of shareholders – Hong Kong’s influential Fok family – to gain voting control of the board.

Now the concentration of power in a single branch of the family, backed by the might of another Chinese empire, could boost business as they seek permission to continue operating in Macau’s $53 billion a year gaming industry.

SJM is one of Asia’s oldest gambling businesses and still controls the largest number of casinos in Macau.

“The shareholders in the alliance all possess irreplaceable goodwill, accumulated through prolonged understanding and exposure in various industry sectors in Macau and mainland China,” Daisy Ho, SJM’s chairman and one of Laam’s daughter, said in her first interview since the pact was announced on January 23.

Members of the alliance have interests in retail, hospitality, conferences and travel services, she said.

“Together with Timothy Fok, who is co-chairman of SJM, we can leverage and apply these resources to further develop SJM’s competitiveness to pursue the new gaming concession.”

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