The death of SJM Holdings Ltd founder Stanley Ho Hung Sun on Tuesday at the age of 98, should have no impact on the company and its management. That is according to separate notes from brokerages Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd and JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd.
While SJM Holdings’ share price had risen sharply after the news,”we do not see a reason to cheer the stock,” wrote analysts Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu, in a note published shortly after Mr Ho’s death was confirmed.
As of 4pm, the stock price of Hong Kong-listed SJM Holdings was up by more than 7 percent, with most of the gain happening after news broke of the founder’s death.
Analysts at JP Morgan also said they believed there was no “significant read-across for SJM Holdings or its peers,” from the event.
“Many investors have asked if a potential ‘reshuffling’ of SJM Holdings’ board may accelerate with his death,” said analysts DS Kim, Derek Choi and Jeremy An. “However, we see limited possibility of major changes in control” of SJM Holdings “in the near term – simply because we believe no concessionaire would want to attract unnecessary attention/headlines ahead of concession renewal in June 2022.”
The Sanford Bernstein analysts stated: “[Mr Stanley Ho] had been effectively minimally involved in SJM Holdings since 2011 (if not earlier) and while he had been chairman until 2018, his participation was limited. He had not attended an SJM Holdings board meeting (even though he was chairman) since 2015.
“His retirement in 2018 had no real positive impact on SJM Holdings and his death does not change the equation either (at least for now).”
Sanford Bernstein added in its note that, “if anything, we could see greater infighting between various interested parties” following Mr Stanley Ho’s death. That was a reference to different branches of his family and power struggles between them to gain control over the Stanley Ho business empire.
Mr Stanley Ho had a total of 17 recognised offspring by four consorts.
“Until we see substantive alterations to management and governance that will lead to fundamental changes to how SJM Holdings operates and increases [its] positioning in Macau’s highly competitive market, we remain on the sidelines,” said the Sanford Bernstein analysts, making reference to the company’s atypical leadership structure, featuring one chairman, two co-chairmen and one vice-chairman.
The issue of who was to succeed Mr Stanley Ho in controlling his business empire made world news in 2011 when it was alleged that his second consort, Lucina Laam King Ying, mother of three of his children involved in the Macau casino sector – Daisy Ho Chiu Fung, Pansy Ho Chiu King and Lawrence Ho Yau Lung – had colluded with his third consort, Ina Chan Un Chan, to take over Lanceford Co Ltd, a holding company that controlled the bulk of his assets. They refuted the suggestions.
The described peace deal that followed the reported power struggle was said to have guaranteed a role in the family empire for Angela Leong On Kei, Stanley Ho’s fourth consort and mother of his youngest children.
But in late January 2019 it was announced that interests controlled by Pansy Ho and interests controlled by the Henry Fok Foundation were joining in alliance to guarantee a majority control of Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau SA (STDM), the controlling shareholder of SJM Holdings.
“While some investors have been optimistic about radical changes in management and governance on the back of the ‘Pansy Ho alliance’ we have remained cautious until we see substantive changes for the better, which we have not seen to date,” the Sanford Bernstein analysts wrote in their Tuesday note. “We do not see how Stanley Ho’s death changes the equation.”
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