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Gambling Heir Raises Stakes

9 May 2006

MACAU – As reported by South China Morning Post: "As a gaming boss, Lawrence Ho Yau-lung invests billions in casino projects, but you won't find him feeding slot machines or piling up chips on blackjack tables.

"…The 29-year-old chairman and chief executive of Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development is focused on expanding the gaming and entertainment business with partner Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL), the largest casino operator in Australia.

"His elevation to the Melco chairmanship came when his father, Stanley Ho Hung-sun, decided to list his flagship Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) in Hong Kong. Mr Ho senior, who remains a Melco shareholder, stepped aside because SJM and Melco are competing with each other in the Macau casino market.

"The Melco-PBL joint venture two months ago spent US$900 million buying the sixth and last gaming licence from Wynn Resorts so its two major casino projects can be on its own licence, instead of paying an annual licence fee to Mr Ho's father's company.

"The move allows the joint venture to operate an unlimited number of casinos, tables and machines in Macau until June 2022.

"…Stanley Ho, nicknamed the Casino King because of his 40-year casino monopoly in the former Portuguese enclave, continues to be a major player in the business since it was opened to competition in 2002. And both Lawrence Ho and his sister Pansy Ho Chiu-king are separately expanding into the trade. But it will be no mean feat for Mr Ho and his sister to emerge from their father's shadow.

"…Mr Ho joined his father in 2001 to take over Melco at a time when the firm was operating the loss-making Jumbo floating restaurant in Aberdeen.

"In five years, Mr Ho, who is in charge of the daily operation of the firm, has turned it around. Its net profit last year was $548.7 million, up ninefold on 2004…"

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