Stanley Ho

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 February, 2007, 12:00am

Big spender Ho splashes out HK$1m on Australian political party

Billionaire Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun is well known for making large philanthropic donations and is not shy about publicly wading into political debates.

Still, Lai See was surprised to discover during his routine perusal of Australian Electoral Commission filings that Mr Ho last year donated almost HK$1 million to the New South Wales branch of the Australia Labor Party.

According to disclosure documents filed recently with the commission, Mr Ho made three separate donations to the Labor Party's local branch in June last year.

A NSW state budget dinner held on June 8 apparently included a fund-raising auction - and Mr Ho bet big.

Mr Ho apparently paid A$21,000 (now HK$126,420) for a 'Rolling Stone Guitar', A$20,000 for a souvenir autographed by the state premier and treasurer, A$20,000 for designer rug and 'home entertainment package' and a whopping A$48,000 for a lunch with the state premier and treasurer.

Less than a week later, Mr Ho made two separate follow-up donations of A$15,000 and A$35,000.

The grand total for the donations was A$159,000, or about HK$960,000.

Wynn a winner

Staying on the subject of billionaire gaming moguls, Las Vegas casino developer Wynn Resorts announced yesterday an 18 per cent pay increase for chairman and chief executive Steve Wynn, whose annual base salary is now set at US$3.25 million.

Mr Wynn (below) delivered in a big way last year, opening the first phase of his US$1.2 billion Wynn Macau casino resort on time and within budget in September.

He also kept shareholders happy by paying a special cash dividend of US$6 per share in November and overseeing a big surge in the company's share price, which has risen 87 per cent in the past 12 months.

To put that pay raise in perspective, consider that Mr Wynn holds about 24 per cent of the company's shares. So with the share price spike, the market value of his stake in the company rose to US$2.75 billion as of Thursday from US$1.6 billion a year ago. Talk about incentive.

Would you like rice with that IPO?

Meadville Holdings, a printed circuit board maker controlled by the family of Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, received an unusual gift from the Hong Kong stock exchange. Celebrating the start of trading yesterday after the company's successful listing, company executives and representatives from the exchange gathered to pose for press photographers.

Meadville executive chairman Tom Tang Chung-yen was handed a souvenir bag from the exchange with the HKEx logo on it - ostensibly a gift for deciding to list in Hong Kong that he should hold up for the press pack to see.

But when Mr Tang opened his bag he found - wait for it - a styrofoam lunch box with the contents half-eaten.

It appears the dirty old rice box was placed inside the bag as a weight to hold the bag in shape for photos.

Libraries for rural children

Ending where we began, on the subject of donations. Citigroup, the world's largest bank, said yesterday it would donate a US$281,000 grant to the Sun Yat-sen library to fund the construction of two children's libraries in rural parts of Guangdong.

The Liuzu and Longmen children's libraries will be state-of-the-art facilities centred in school districts that are home to more than 30,000 students. Citigroup's donation is expected to fund the purchase of more than 30,000 books over the next three years, as well as computer equipment.

Hats off to Citi, and let's have more of the same, please.