Casino mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun yesterday stepped down as chairman of Melco International Development, his son's Hong Kong-traded gaming venture, as he pushes ahead with plans to take the family's biggest gaming company public. Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) would apply to hold an initial public offering in Hong Kong within a week, Mr Ho told reporters. He said he resigned as Melco chairman to avoid any conflict of interest after the listing, which he hopes will be in June. Lawrence Ho Yau-lung, 29, Melco's managing director, takes over as the chairman and chief executive. Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau, SJM's parent firm, would hold a board meeting today to grant a mandate for fast-tracking the listing process, Mr Ho said. 'The listing rules do not allow me to be seated on the board of directors of both SJM and Melco, which have competing businesses,' he said, adding that his son had demonstrated his capability in leading Melco. While he had stepped down as chairman, Mr Ho said he would continue to hold his 12 per cent stake in Melco. His son holds 35 per cent of the company. Mr Ho had been chairman since 1987 while his son joined the company as managing director in 2001. 'The interesting thing to look out for is how Melco will now compete with SJM,' Credit Suisse analyst Gabriel Chan said. Last week, Melco and Australia's Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (PBL) signed a deal to buy the last remaining sub-concession casino licence in Macau from Wynn Resort for US$900 million. Lawrence Ho yesterday said it was unfair to compare the high price they paid with the US$200 million that MGM Mirage, run by his sister Pansy Ho Chiu-king, paid SJM for a similar deal a year ago as it was worth paying a premium for the last sub-concession. He added that Crown Macau, the casino and six-star hotel project to be run by the Melco-PBL venture, would open together in the first half of next year and not in two phases as originally planned. Macau's gaming revenue rose 11 per cent to US$5.6 billion last year, compared with the 44 per cent jump in 2004 that was largely due to the opening of the Sands, the city's first Las Vegas-style casino.