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2017 Inside Asian Gaming Power 50: Number Six - Angela Leong

Tuesday, 05 December 2017 13:47
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6 Angela Leong

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
SJM Holdings

MANAGING DIRECTOR
Sociedade de Jogos de Macau

DIRECTOR
STDM

POWER SCORE
2,221

LAST YEAR
6

CLAIMS TO FAME
• De facto gaming industry representative in Macau Legislative Assembly
• Stanley Ho’s fourth wife
• Owns largest individual stake in SJM Holdings

Whether you consider her the top casino executive in politics, or the top politician in the casino industry, Angela Leong holds a unique place in Macau. The fourth wife of Stanley Ho, four term legislator and mother of five is his heir apparent at SJM, the highest ranking woman in Asian, if not global, gaming, a business leader in Hong Kong and holder of political posts in her native mainland China. Her multibillion dollar property portfolio extends from Cotai to central London.

She was born across the border in Guangzhou, but like her Hong Kong native husband, Ms Leong has embraced Macau – and it’s hugged her right back. Her presence in SJM is crucial not just for keeping a family hand in the business – Stanley Ho remains SJM Chairman and Executive Director at age 96 but has been in poor health since July 2009 – but for confirming the company’s status as Macau’s local casino company.

Ms Leong has been a guiding force on Grand Lisboa Palace, SJM’s long awaited entry into Cotai. Numerous setbacks, most recently Typhon Hato in August and a fire in September, have delayed completion until at least late 2018 and upped the cost to HK$36 billion (US$4.6 billion).

When finished, the IR will have 2,000 hotel rooms under three nameplates, Grand Lisboa Palace, Palazzo Versace and Karl Lagerfeld. Ms Leong was reportedly instrumental in securing agreement with the Italian luxury fashion house to put the world’s third Versace hotel in Macau. Ms Leong’s oldest child, 27-year-old Sonia Ho, is a project manager on the IR.

The Grand Lisboa Cotai site measures 70,000 square meters (753,200 square feet), the smallest granted to any casino operator. Ms Leong has a 200,000 square meter plot adjacent to the site; she and SJM have been in talks for years about a lease agreement. She has suggested an amusement park, indoor beach and budget accommodation on the land, near the East Asia Games Dome at the southeastern end of Cotai.

That Cotai plot is but one example of Ms Leong being a part of and apart from SJM. She owns L’Arc, the 56-floor hotel and residential tower featuring an SJM licensed casino, buying out former partner New World in 2010. She leased the site of Jai Alai Hotel, adjacent to Oceanus, to SJM for redevelopment. The casino opened last December and the retail area featuring cosmetics and beauty products debuted in April, with the 130 room hotel that SJM desperately needs finally opened in November.

Clearly, Angela Leong is bigger than just her SJM position. But that begs the question of why she hasn’t been more proactive on behalf of the interests of the company and the broader industry. While no one expects her to use her government position to get SJM favorable treatment, she could, say, spearhead public-private efforts to create more world class tourist attractions on the Macau peninsula where SJM has the most assets or encourage meaningful action on visitor-resident issues? Either way, no one could accuse Ms Leong of lacking drive.

To return to the full list of 2017 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.

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