Pansy Ho, daughter of Macau casino king Stanley Ho, outpaced her father near the top of Asia's billionaire list with the IPO of MGM China, a Macau casino she co-owns with MGM Resorts International. The Hong Kong IPO, the last of six companies operating in Macau to be listed, brought in $1.5 billion, and is thought by some to be valued too highly.
Reuters reported that MGM China said in its statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it had sold 760 million shares at the high end of the range it had set: HK$15.34 ($1.97) per share, for a total of $1.5 billion.
The former Portuguese colony of Macau (it was returned to China in December of 1999) is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal. It is also the world's largest center of gaming, far outstripping Las Vegas with revenues of $10 billion just for the period of January-April 2011. That’s equal to the Nevada city's entire yearly total for 2010. With gambling revenues at all-time highs; the Thomson Reuters Hong Kong Casinos & Gaming Index is up so far this year more than 41% in a broader market that is otherwise flat. This has fueled a boom for the share prices of other local casinos, which led to a surge in demand for shares of MGM China.
Pansy Ho, in the wake of the IPO, now has a net worth of almost $5 billion, surpassing her father's fortune, which is estimated at around $3 billion. The elder Ho held a long-standing monopoly on casino gambling in Macau.
While some say the sector is overheated, others say there's still room for growth. Mark To, a Wing Fung Financial Group analyst, was quoted in the report saying, "I won't buy into the IPO, not right now. The Macau casino business has been red hot for a while now, so its valuation is actually not cheap, making it not very competitive." However, Teng Yee Tan, a gaming analyst at CIMB Research in Hong Kong, said in a statement, "The sector is still a darling with investors. It's growing very strongly and there is no sign of deceleration."
With Goldman Sachs predicting in a May 6 report that the gaming market will double in size between 2013 and 2015 to $50 billion, with the number of visitors expected to gain almost 54% (from 2010) by 2015 to 38.4 million and hotel rooms expected to increase by 41% over the same span, the gamble may just pay off.