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The unfolding drama over the fate of gambling mega-tycoon Stanley Ho’s empire continues with a fresh lawsuit filed Wednesday against members of his own family.

While the legal and financial details (and family relationships) are far too complex to cover here, the battle is over a $1.4 billion stake in Ho’s SJM Holdings, Ltd. — the largest gambling business in Asia, and, with Macau’s meteoric rise, arguably the most influential in the world.

Conscious of his declining health (currently wheelchair-bound, and a year after recovering from brain surgery), Stanley Ho had attempted in past months to sketch a plan for transition of control and assets to members of his family. The focal point is Ho’s private holding company known as Lanceford, whose December 2010 activities indicate that Ho’s daughters Pansy and Daisy Ho transferred shares to other companies which grant them (and third wife Ina Chan) more overt ownership of the stakes.

In January, the businessman filed a lawsuit to restrain daughter Pansy Ho and others from acting without his consent, but the suit was withdrawn after a compromise was seemingly reached to return the disputed holdings.

The new lawsuit indicates that the oral agreement was insufficient, or possibly ignored; Ho’s on-again, off-again lawyer Gordon Oldham asserts that the daughters have been “reluctant to come to negotiations”.

This soap opera story has a very real effect on the overall economic status of the company; since January, SJM Holdings stock value has decreased 16% since the January 24th transfer.

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