After months of behind-the-scenes and highly public feuding, parties in the epic family battle for control of Macau gaming magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun's massive fortune appear to have finally brokered a truce.
'All members of the Ho family have reached full and final agreement based on the principle of 'mutual understanding and mutual accommodation',' a statement released last night and signed by Stanley Ho on behalf of 'all members of the Ho family' said.
The second lawsuit filed by Ho's lawyer Gordon Oldham on February 16 naming daughters Pansy Ho Chiu-king and Daisy Ho Chiu-fung was withdrawn by Ho on February 21, according to the statement, which was distributed to the media by Ho's long-time press secretary at Shun Tak Holdings, Janet Wong.
The suit had demanded the two daughters undo the December share transfer that saw Ho, 89, lose control of Lanceford, a private holding company that ultimately controls his stake in casino operator SJM Holdings as well as a swathe of private investments stretching from Vietnam to Portugal.
The suit also named Lanceford as a defendant alongside the two British Virgin Islands firms that now control Lanceford - Action Winner, controlled by Ho's third wife, Ina Chan Un Chan, and Ranillo Investments, controlled by Pansy, Daisy, Maisy Ho Chiu-ha, Josie Ho Chiu-yee and Lawrence Ho Yau-lung, Ho's children with his second wife, Lucina Laam King-ying. The suit had not gone to court and members of Ho's four families, which include 16 surviving children and three surviving wives, now appear to have settled matters behind closed doors.
'A deed of settlement was executed on March 8 between all branches of the Ho family. We have agreed that we shall work together and continue to develop the gambling business in Macau founded by Dr Ho and operated by the Ho family to enable it to flourish,' the statement said. 'All the Ho family members shall work together and discharge our duties to further the development of the business of [private Macau holding company] STDM and SJM Holdings with a view to achieving greater contribution to the prosperity and stability of Macau, Hong Kong and China.'
Stanley Ho's fourth wife, Angela Leong On-kei, managing director of SJM, refused to disclose details of the truce, only saying that everyone was happy about the deal.
She said the four families would have a 'balanced participation' in STDM and SJM, adding that the agreement would not alter the structure of SJM's board.
'Mr Ho's shares were distributed among our four families, but it's not appropriate for me to disclose the proportions ... it was a mutual understanding and accommodation to make the agreement possible,' she said. 'The most important is that the structure of the SJM's board of directors and the developmental direction will not be affected.'
Ho's lawyer, Oldham, said last night it was a 'settlement between the four parties and Dr Ho to resolve their differences and for each to go their own way'. Oldham declined to provide details, but said it was 'mission accomplished'.
A spokesman for Brunswick, the public relations agency of Lanceford and its new shareholders, confirmed that the statement was genuine but declined to comment further.