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Yesterday we reported that billionaire Macau gambling magnate Stanley Ho had finalized the division of his empire among his wives and children. While accurate in most respects, it turns out that Stanley Ho is not directly responsible for the division — nor is he happy about it.

A challenge on Mr. Ho’s behalf was presented on Tuesday morning by lawyers from the firm of Oldham, Li, and Nie, stating in part that the billionaire’s assets had been “hijacked by members of the second and third family”, according to partner Gordon Oldham. Rather than placing the assets in trust as intended, an immediate transfer of shares would leave Mr. Ho himself with only a small stake in his own empire.

The picture painted by initial reports seemed to suggest that Mr. Ho was taking his age and recent illness into account and providing for a smooth transition of his fortune to allay potential family conflicts. This interpretation seems less likely than the current narrative, which alleges that some family members are attempting to put a claim on specific assets in anticipation of the billionaire’s demise.

Despite several years of competition from big names such as Sands and Wynn, Mr. Ho’s gambling company, SJM Holdings, still commands a significant lead in the lucrative Macau gambling market. However, rumors of disputes and an uncertainty about control have had an effect: on Monday, the SJM shares fell 4%, and trading on shares was temporarily suspended on Tuesday after reports of the legal challenge surfaced in the Hong Kong press.


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