Friday, January 28, 2011
Stanley Ho owned a controlling 18% stake in SJM Holdings Ltd., which owns twenty casinos, two hotels, and four slot-machine lounges, and is worth approximately $9.6 billion. Mr. Ho has acknowledged 17 children from four women, and he became sick in 2009 and underwent brain surgery. These are the perfect ingredients for one massive family estate battle.
Mr. Ho recently split his SJM stake roughly in half, with slightly more going to his third wife and the rest going to the children of his second wife. Mr. Ho then told his attorney, Gordon Oldham, that his family had robbed him and that he was very disappointed and distressed. Mr. Oldham knew that Mr. Ho had always intended to leave his stake in SJM in equal shares to his family members.
Only a few hours later, Mr. Ho wrote a letter to the family members in question stating that he voluntarily made the transaction after careful consideration and that he was in good health. Mr. Ho also fired Mr. Oldham, claiming that attorneys don’t belong in family matters. Whether Mr. Ho wrote the letters himself is currently undetermined.
There has been concern about Mr. Ho’s succession plan for some time now, and it seems that these concerns might unleash a chain of lawsuits soon.
Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) and Jim Hillhouse (WealthCounsel) for bringing this to my attention.