Ho secures prime Shanghai site as he remains Macau casino king

Casino mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun has outbid Orient Overseas (International) (0316) and a Singapore company to secure a prime commercial site in Shanghai for 1.43 billion yuan (HKD 1.44 billion) at a public auction.
The winning bid, which was 63 percent higher than the reserve price of 880 million yuan, was made by Ho’s Shanghai property unit.

The 1.877-hectare site in Changning district, attracted 276 bids from representatives of the three companies present at the auction.

With a plot ratio of four, the office-retail site could yield a gross floor area of more than 70,000 square meters when completed in 2012.

Hong Kong developers have been eager to invest in Shanghai real estate, shrugging off concerns that further macroeconomic tightening measures on the mainland are likely to impact the property market.

Cheung Kong (Holdings) (0001) and associate Hutchison Whampoa (0013) previously unveiled a HKD 3.6 billion property project in Shanghai.

Macau casino tycoon Ho is also proceeding with a large-scale commercial property project in Hongqiao district through his Shanghai real estate subsidiary which is controlled by Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau, a holding company for his casino operations in the enclave.

Ho’s HKD 5 billion Grand Lisboa, a 52-story complex that houses a 430-room hotel as well as a five-floor casino with 240 tables and 484 slot machines, opened Sunday. The casino attracted 50,000 people within three hours of opening.

Ho said Sunday he still controls a 63 percent share of Macau’s gaming industry, where casinos raked in USD 6.485 billion (HKD 50.583 billion) revenue from slot machines and table games from January to November last year, surpassing the USD 6.079 billion recorded in Las Vegas.

Although his dominance of the casino business has eroded with the arrival of overseas competitors, including Sands Macau, Wynn Macau and Galaxy Entertainment (0027), Ho remains unfazed.

„The casino pie will get bigger,“ Ho said in an interview published this week in Chinese- language magazine EastWeek, a sister publication of The Standard.

Macau’s casinos attract millions of Chinese last year from both the mainland and Hong Kong. In 2006, 11.9 million mainland visitors flocked to the enclave.