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Capital Markets

Hong Kong equities: Ho gets SJM to the table

IPO ends long struggle for the gambling tycoon.

Against the odds: Stanley Ho (centre), chief executive Ambrose So and Ho’s wife, Angela Leong On Kei, at the listing ceremony of SJM on July 16

Against the odds: Stanley Ho (centre), chief executive Ambrose So and Ho’s wife, Angela Leong On Kei, at the listing ceremony of SJM on July 16

It’s tough to imagine a worse environment for an IPO than the one that faced Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, the casino business owned by Asia’s most legendary gambling tycoon, Stanley Ho, when it listed on July 16. There’s the hellish global market conditions, for a start: the Dow hit its lowest level for two years the night before SJM started trading in Hong Kong, and the Hang Seng has been hovering around similar lows. Very few issuers have braved these markets with an IPO and those that have attempted it have looked either brazen or desperate, and usually both.

But SJM faced a host of local problems too. On the day of launch, Macau announced restrictions on visitors from the People’s Republic to the Special Administrative Region, the latest in a number of measures designed to cool the growth of Macau’s gaming industry and, in particular, curb the enthusiasm of mainlanders in helping it grow.

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