VICE-CHAIRMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CEO
Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, SA
POWER SCORE: 1,006
POSITION LAST YEAR: 23
CLAIMS TO FAME
- Stanley Ho’s right hand man for decades
- Noted calligrapher whose work featured at Stanley Ho’s funeral
In his nearly 45 years as part of SJM and its antecedents, Ambrose So has proven to be a survivor. Now, it’s time for So to ensure SJM is a survivor, too. Grand Lisboa Palace, scheduled to open soon as the former monopoly’s first Cotai property, is a make or break moment for the gaming concessionaire founded by Stanley Ho.
Since Ho fell in his bathroom in July 2009, with SJM having retaken Macau’s gaming market share lead, the company’s trajectory has been steadily downward, reporting a 14.1% share last year. Much of the problem has been the shift of Macau’s center of gaming gravity from the peninsula to Cotai.
The fall that effectively ended Stanley Ho’s business career came less than two years after the opening of Venetian Macao as the first Cotai integrated resort and just weeks after Melco’s City of Dreams became the third Cotai property with Sands China’s Plaza/Four Season complex debuting in August 2008. By then, Ho likely saw the writing on the wall, but we’ll never know how he would have reacted.
We know how Ambrose So reacted. As SJM’s most senior executive – dating back to 1976 with predecessor and majority owner STDM – So was best placed to keep SJM moving forward and prevent it from being sidetracked by inevitable issues generated by Ho’s sprawling family featuring four spouses and 17 offspring. Judge the results for yourself.
SJM can’t get back its lost decade-plus, but it can begin putting things right with HK$39 billion (US$5 billion) Grand Lisboa Palace. Its 1,900 hotel rooms will virtually double guest capacity under SJM management while adding hundreds of tables, big time retail and more than 30 F&B options.
GLP will be the first new property SJM entirely controls since Grand Lisboa opened in 2007. SJM’s peninsula flagship proved to be an effective response to Sands Macao, with rooms, food and guest service upping market standards, just as Stanley Ho had decades earlier with the original Lisboa. The question remains whether SJM can live up to that legacy without its founding father. Sadly, a dozen years on, no one knows the answer.
For the full list of 2020 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.