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Stanley Ho taking the offensive

19 August 2008

MACAO -- As reported by the Wall Street Journal: "With his grip on Asia's gambling capital slipping, Stanley Ho has gone on the offensive.

"Last month, the Hong Kong-born gambling magnate announced plans to tear down his flagship Lisboa casino and hotel and build his biggest and most opulent showcase yet, at a cost of HK$12 billion (US$1.54 billion). The 86-year-old also pushed through a long-delayed initial public offering for the company he controls, SJM Holdings Ltd., raising $494 million despite stock-market jitters.

"...SJM shares closed at HK$2.69 Friday, down 13% since trading began.

"...SJM owns 19 of Macau's 29 casinos and 29% of the market's gambling revenues.

"...The competitive challenge adds to questions surrounding Asia's largest gambling company by revenue. For 40 years, Mr. Ho was the uncontested casino king of Macau, amassing billions of dollars in profit from the gambling tables he controlled in this specially administered Chinese enclave. An accomplished ballroom dancer, Mr. Ho is worth $9 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

"...SJM is absent so far from Macau's busiest commercial frontier, a strip of reclaimed land called Cotai where others are building enormous casino, hotel and entertainment complexes.

"Instead, Mr. Ho is betting on a revitalization of the downtown area, the location of his landmark Lisboa. Mr. Ho and a few other like-minded rivals want to create a cluster of luxurious casinos in downtown Macau that can compete with the integrated resorts rising a 10-minute taxi ride away on Cotai..."

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