Lui Che-Woo

Galaxy casino chairman Lui Che-woo wants to expand beyond Macau

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 January, 2014, 5:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 September, 2015, 8:54am

Lui Che-woo became Asia's second-richest person by setting up a casino company that within a decade became the world's third-biggest by market value. The 84-year-old says he is just hitting his stride.

"What can I do if I retire, watch the sun rise and set?" said the chairman of Galaxy Entertainment who first made his fortune in construction and also owns 13 hotels in the US, including seven Hiltons. "I want to do something meaningful. I don't want to just sit there waiting to die."

Lui plans to expand his business empire beyond Macau and said he was open to acquiring US casinos. Meanwhile, Galaxy, which is spending about US$10 billion to expand its gambling resort in Macau, may also invest HK$10 billion in nearby Hengqin island, Lui said. He also plans to set up a charity to build schools on the mainland.

Galaxy runs six of the 35 casinos in Macau, where casino revenue surged 19 per cent to US$45 billion last year, about seven times that of the Las Vegas Strip. After a more than sixfold increase in net income in the three years to 2012, the company is seeking to repeat its success outside Macau, where the industry faces land and labour constraints.

"We don't miss out on great opportunities," Lui said in an interview last week in his office with a commanding view of East Kowloon, which includes land reclaimed with rocks from his quarries.

"We'd love to expand, especially after our resorts that combine casino, entertainment shows, arts and shopping have proved to be successful."

Lui's net worth has risen to US$22.4 billion, anchored by his family's 51 per cent stake in Galaxy. Galaxy's share price more than doubled last year.

Galaxy would consider investing at least US$2.6 billion in both Japan and Taiwan if those markets opened up, Lui's eldest son Francis, who runs the company as deputy chairman, said in November.

To complement its casino business, Lui said Galaxy intends to build sports-related facilities and hotels in Hengqin. He declined to discuss possible acquisition targets in the US.

Lui, who never finished secondary school, said he plans to set up a charity foundation to fund schools and universities on the mainland.

He declined to say how much of his fortune he would donate.