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Stanley Ho ends feud with family

27 January 2011

MACAU -- After two days of back and forth charges, Hong Kong billionaire Stanley Ho put an end his family feud.

In a televised broadcast in Hong Kong Wednesday, the 89-year-old Ho, reading an off-camera cue card from a reclining chair as his daughter held a microphone, said he was transferring ownership of his Macau casinos to several of his 17 children and his third wife.

"I have been really unhappy recently because of the disputes, my family members were unhappy as well," Ho said. "The big problem has been resolved."

Ho's company, SJM, announced Monday the transfer of Ho's interest, valued at $1.7 billion, to two companies operated by family members. He retained about 100 shares in SJM.

The next day, a Hong Kong lawyer said the transfer took place without Ho's consent. Ho's family members then produced legal documents they said were from him, showing the allocation of shares in his Hong Kong-based corporation represented his wishes.

Ho, who has been recuperating from brain surgery since 2009, had a 40-year monopoly on casino activity in Macau when it was a Portuguese colony.

When China took over ownership of Macau in 1999, the government opened the lucrative market to outside development, allowing American gaming companies Las Vegas Sands Corp., MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts Ltd. to build hotel-casinos.

Ho's company, SJM, operates more than two dozen Macau casinos, including the Hotel Lisboa and Grand Lisboa. The company still maintains the largest share of Macau's gambling market.

International law enforcement authorities have long alleged that Chinese organized crime triads influenced the Macau casinos operated by Ho.