Macau gaming industry 'father' Stanley Ho to retire as SJM chairman

Slideshow ( 4 images )

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Macau gambling pioneer Stanley Ho, one of Asia's richest men, will retire as chairman of SJM Holdings Ltd 0880.HK at its forthcoming annual general meeting on June 12, the casino operator said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Shares of SJM, which has a market value of HK$39 billion ($5 billion), jumped as much as 10.5 percent on Friday to their highest level in nearly two months, outpacing a flat broader market.

Ho, 96, will become chairman emeritus while Daisy Ho, one of his daughters who is already on the board, will take over the running of the business.

“Dr Ho has justifiably been acknowledged as the founding father of Macau’s gaming industry, which has for some time been the largest in the world in terms of revenue,” SJM said in the filing late on Thursday.

The flamboyant tycoon is one of Hong Kong’s best-known businessmen. His swashbuckling corporate deal-making style transformed Macau from a sleepy peninsula dotted with seedy, windowless gambling dens into the world’s biggest casino center.

Ho was shielded from challengers by a four-decade monopoly on gambling that he lost in 2002 when Macau was opened up to competition, three years after the territory returned to Chinese rule.

SJM is one of Macau's six licensed operators, which include Sands China Ltd 1928.HK and Wynn Macau Ltd 1128.HK.

His retirement comes just weeks after Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing, announced his retirement as chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd 0001.HK, bringing to a close a rags-to-riches story that made him a hero in the capitalist hub.

Last June, Ho stepped down as chairman of Hong Kong conglomerate Shun Tak Holdings Ltd 0242.HK, with his daughter Pansy Ho taking over the position.

Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Anne Marie RoantreeEditing by Christopher Cushing