CO-CHAIRPERSON AND MANAGING DIRECTOR
MGM China Holdings Ltd
GROUP EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN AND MANAGING DIRECTOR
Shun Tak Holdings
POWER SCORE: 4,159
POSITION LAST YEAR: 5
CLAIMS TO FAME
- Arguably the most prominent of Dr Stanley Ho’s 17 children
- Has interests in two Macau concessionaires plus multiple other real estate and hospitality holdings
In June of this year, less than a week after former CEO Grant Bowie stepped down, MGM China’s Co-Chairperson and Executive Director Pansy Ho – also a 22.49% stakeholder in the company – announced she would be taking on the new role of Co-Chairperson and Managing Director.
Part of a management restructure that also saw finance gurus Hubert Wang and Kenneth Feng named joint presidents – Wang as President and COO and Feng as President and CFO – Ms Ho said at the time that she would be spending more time on site and working much more closely with the management team on a “day-to-day basis.”
The move to assume such a hands on role comes as no great surprise according to those in the know at MGM China, who suggest Ms Ho’s input into the strategic direction of the company has never gone unnoticed.
Yet she does so at a time when she has also been working to increase her influence elsewhere too.
In early 2019, Ms Ho made a high profile power play for control of Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, S.A. (STDM) – the one-time holder of a monopoly on Macau’s casino industry that was founded by her father, Stanley Ho, in 1962 and is now majority owner of SJM Holdings.
By forming an alliance with the Fok Foundation, the combined interests in STDM of Ho and her new partners reached 53% and allowed them to claim six of 10 available seats on the SJM board when internal elections were held just a few months later. That could prove telling, particularly following the passing of Dr Ho after a long battle with illness earlier this year – potentially paving the way for Ms Ho to make her move.
MGM’s covenants restrict its shareholders from holding meaningful stakes in any of its rival concessionaires, but they conveniently have written into them an exception for Ms Ho as relates to SJM. Late last year the 58-year-old signed an extension to non-compete agreements with MGM China and its parent company MGM Resorts that neither she nor her associates will, directly or indirectly, engage or invest in any other casino gaming business in Macau, China, Hong Kong or Taiwan or hold any shares or interest in another casino gaming business outside of certain specified exceptions.
Those exceptions include her STDM interest as well as her position as Chairman, CEO and Director of Shun Tak Holdings – one of Macau’s biggest land owners with interests in a number of Macau gaming operators including Artyzen Hospitality Group, which owns Grand Lapa.
Her decision to step up to the coalface at MGM China comes at a crucial time for the company, not least of all because it has felt the COVID-19 pain as much as anyone with EBITDAR losses totaling US$116 million in 2Q20.
No doubt she will be keen to see signs of recovery sooner rather than later with the Macau government planning to announce details of the re-tendering process for gaming licenses in 2021. It could be reasonably argued that no one has more interest in that announcement than Pansy Ho.
For the full list of 2020 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.