Gambling Magnate Ho Retires at 96

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HONG KONG, April 13 (Reuters) - Macau gambling pioneer Stanley Ho, one of Asia's richest men, will retire as chairman of SJM Holdings Ltd at its forthcoming annual general meeting on June 12, the casino operator said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Shares of SJM, which has a market value of HK$39 billion ($5 billion), jumped as much as 10.5 percent on Friday to their highest level in nearly two months, outpacing a flat broader market.

Ho, 96, will become chairman emeritus while Daisy Ho, one of his daughters who is already on the board, will take over the running of the business.

The flamboyant tycoon is one of Hong Kong's best-known businessmen. His swashbuckling corporate deal-making style transformed Macau from a sleepy peninsula dotted with seedy, windowless gambling dens into the world's biggest casino centre.

Ho was shielded from challengers by a four-decade monopoly on gambling that he lost in 2002 when Macau was opened up to competition, three years after the territory returned to Chinese rule.

SJM is one of Macau's six licensed operators, which include Sands China Ltd and Wynn Macau Ltd.

His retirement comes just weeks after Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing, announced his retirement as chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd, bringing to a close a rags-to-riches story that made him a hero in the capitalist hub.

Last June, Ho stepped down as chairman of Hong Kong conglomerate Shun Tak Holdings Ltd, with his daughter Pansy Ho taking over the position.

($1 = 7.8498 Hong Kong dollars)

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