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'Godfather' of Macau casinos Stanley Ho to retire

Daisy Ho takes over as chairman and exec director; Angela Leong and Timothy Fok appointed co-chairmen and exec directors

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Macau tycoon Stanley Ho (3rd from left) celebrating his 85th birthday with his children (from left) Daisy, Pansy, Maisy, Josie and Lawrence in November 2006.

Hong Kong

MACAU gambling tycoon Stanley Ho will step down from his flagship casino empire SJM Holdings, the company said late on Thursday, as the 96-year-old magnate hands over the reins to his daughter.

Known as the "godfather" of Macau casinos, Mr Ho has been instrumental in turning the former Portuguese colony on China's southern coast into a gambling boomtown, with gaming revenue surpassing Las Vegas.

His retirement will take effect on June 12 at the end of SJM's annual general meeting, after which he will take on the new title of "chairman emeritus", the company said.

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Daisy Ho, his daughter, will take over as chairman and executive director, while his fourth wife, Angela Leong, and Timothy Fok, son of Stanley Ho's former business partner Henry Fok, will be appointed co-chairmen and executive directors.

Gaming revenues in Macau were hit hard by a corruption crackdown launched by China's President Xi Jinping in 2012, but SJM is trying to lure visitors back to Macau with the sprawling new Grand Lisboa Palace complex, reportedly due to open in 2019.

Mr Ho is the great-nephew of one of Asia's first tycoons, Robert Hotung, who was among Hong Kong's wealthiest individuals at the turn of the 20th century.

He made his fortune smuggling luxury goods into China from Macau during World War II, before securing the only gaming licence in the then-Portuguese colony in 1962.

The billionaire monopolised the gaming industry until 2002, when the government introduced foreign investors, sparking a boom which saw casino takings contribute around 80 per cent of the city's annual revenue. He stepped down as chairman from his Hong Kong-based conglomerate Shun Tak Holdings last year with his daughter Pansy Ho succeeding him. AFP