SJM operates some of the largest casinos in Macau. Photo: Reuters

Who really has control of SJM Holdings Limited, Macau’s longest running operator of 19 casinos? The question has been raised again after two of the company’s biggest shareholders decided to align their interests in the holding company.

In an announcement on Wednesday, SJM shareholder Shun Tak Holdings said it had entered into an agreement with shareholder the Henry Fok Foundation to bind their more than 53% stake in SJM.

The action, which came one year after SJM founder Stanley Ho,  Macau’s “casino king” who will be 98 this year, passed the baton to his daughter Pansy Ho, who also co-owns the MGM Macau. The latest move would hurt the interests of other stakeholders such as his third wife, Ina Chan, and fourth wife, Angela Leong.

Leong, who often talks to the media and small shareholders on behalf of SJM, declined to comment.

Macau casino king Stanley Ho. Photo: WeChat

SJM’s subsidiary STDM, which enjoyed a monopoly in Macau’s gambling industry until 2002, was originally founded in 1962 by Stanley Ho and Henry Fok, another Hong Kong realty tycoon, as well as his Fok Foundation.

The Fok Foundation holds 26.5%, Pansy Ho and her sisters and brother hold 26.4%. New World Group also owns about 10%.

SJM chief executive So Shu-fai said the new alignment gave a clear picture to the public of who controls SJM and would lower market speculation and make SJM a less family-controlled but more professionally run business.

But all the gossip and talk of infighting swirling around Ho’s wives and his many children will continue despite the consolidation of the business. It has never been easy to manage the two wives and many children in Ho’s casino empire.

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