Ho family shares feud takes a New Year break

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 February, 2011, 12:00am

Macau gaming tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun met his lawyer Gordon Oldham for two and a half hours yesterday at his hilltop residence at No1 Repulse Bay Road.

Their meeting appeared to be the first since Oldham released three edited videos of their conversations on Monday, which appeared to shed light on the 89-year-old billionaire's reaction to the battle among his four families for control of his fortune.

Oldham drove from Ho's home at 1.30pm and sped past scores of journalists outside the front gate.

Meanwhile, the family infighting over shares of Lanceford, Ho's main holding company, seemed to have taken a break, at least in the public domain, as the ageing mogul celebrated Lunar New Year.

On Wednesday, the last day of the Year of the Tiger, Ho sent his greetings to those at the year-end dinner of Macau casino operator SJM Holdings in a video. Playing with words that sound like 'rabbit' in Cantonese, Ho said: 'Wear a tuxedo and come to our casino if you want to get rich in the New Year. However, only take out a little bit of cash. It's not good if you lose more than you win and whinge to me about it.'

On Lunar New Year's Day, the tycoon carried on his tradition of meeting his employees and his four families. He released a witty speech for the Year of the Rabbit through staff of Shun Tak Holdings.

'Be careful not to let the attractive bunnies seduce your husband,' Ho was quoted in the Chinese statement. Using Chinese idioms, Ho reminded businessmen not to wait idly for opportunities. For those who were studying, he made a reference to the well-known Aesop's fable about a race between a hare and a tortoise.

Two hours after Oldham's departure yesterday, three cars left Ho's residence for No4 Repulse Bay Road - the home of his fourth wife Angela Leong On-kei. Ho could not be seen behind the curtains of his seven-seater, which was sandwiched between a black car and a red seven-seater.

On Wednesday, SJM Holdings released a statement via Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, stating that the shareholding arrangements of Lanceford were contained within the Ho family. It said that shareholding issues within Lanceford did not affect the shareholding, management or strategies of SJM Holdings.

Lanceford owns a controlling 31.6 per cent of Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau. STDM, the largest commercial employer in Macau with more than 10,000 staff, holds a 56 per cent interest in SJM Holdings - a stake worth about HK$40 billion.

As the family battle unfolded last week, Ho's contradictory statements baffled onlookers.

On January 26, Oldham filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ho, accusing the latter's second wife, Lucina Laam King-ying, their five children (Pansy, Daisy, Maisy, Lawrence and Josie), his third wife Ina Chan Un Chan, and his long-time banker Patrick Huen Wing-ming of 'improperly and/or illegally' seizing 99.98 per cent control of Lanceford. However, the legal action was dropped on January 29.

In a video recorded on January 25 and released on Monday by Oldham, the tycoon described the transactions that saw him lose control of Lanceford as 'something like robbery'.

But a statement released on January 28 quoted Ho saying: 'There have never been any acts of 'hijacking', 'robbery', 'fraudulent misappropriation' or 'breach of integrity'. The statement was issued by PR firm Brunswick Group on behalf of Ho's third wife and his five children and carried Ho's signature.