Melco’s Lawrence Ho Awarded US$10 Million Bonus

Lawrence Ho receives a US$10 million bonus despite his company posting a loss.

They say the rich get richer and that is the case when it comes to Lawrence Ho. The 45-year-old CEO and Chairman of Melco Resorts received a US$10 million bonus.

Melco Resorts posted a securities filing this week detailing Ho’s windfall. The son of the late Stanley Ho received restricted stock compensation of 484,956 shares. Each of those shares is worth US$20.68, valuing the bonus as more than US$10 million.

“The purpose of the aforesaid grant of Restricted Shares to Mr. Ho is for incentivising and motivating him to strive for the future development of the Melco Resorts Group and its business. The Directors consider that the terms of the grant are fair and reasonable and that the grant is in the interests of the company and its shareholders as a whole.”

Melco’s directors believe the US$10 million bonus is in the company’s best interests, but we bet Meclo’s shareholders do not. COVID-19 hit Melco and other gambling companies hard. Total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2020 weighed in at only US$0.53 billion, down from US$1.45 billion in 2019.

The reduction in revenue resulted in a US$144.8 million loss. Melco made US$173.4 million for the same period in 2019.

Ho commented on Melco’s earnings press release. “COVID-19 and the subsequent travel restrictions continue to have a significant negative impact on our operating and financial performance. Despite these challenges, our integrated resorts experienced a moderate recovery in business levels during the fourth quarter.”

Who Is Lawrence Ho?

Ho is the oldest living son of casino mogul, the late Stanley Ho. He began his career as an investment banker before following in his father’s footsteps in 2001. Ho partnered his Melco International with James Packer’s Crown Limited to form the Melco Crown Entertainment joint venture.

Melco Crown Entertainment spent billions of dollars building City of Dreams Macau and Studio City. Ho and Packer spent another US$1 billion building City of Dreams Manila in the Philippines.

Packer and Ho fell out, resulting in Ho buying Crown’s stake in the company for US$1.16 billion in May 2017. Ho renamed the company Melco Resorts. The company is currently expanding into Europe with the US$667 million development of City of Dreams Mediterranean in Cyprus.

An Estimated Personal Fortune of US$2.4 Billion

Forbes estimates Ho has a personal fortune of some US$2.4 billion. That gargantuan sum ranks him in the top 1,300 richest people on the planet. Ho’s net worth has doubled since 2016 when Forbes listed him at $1.2 billion.

His fortune ranks him 28th in the world’s billionaires who made their money in the gaming industry. Dr. Miriam Adelson tops that list with a net worth of US$38.2 billion. Dr. Adelson is the widow of the recently deceased Sheldon Adelson. She is in the top 40 in the world’s richest people.

Bet365 founder and co-CEO Denise Coates is worth US$6.5 billion. Coates paid herself US$648 million in 2020 and received worldwide condemnation.

Ho makes the list in 28th place courtesy of his US$2.4 billion. His sister, Pansy Ho, is even richer than Ho with US$3.4 billion.

Lawrence Ho is likely to grow even richer thanks to Melco’s ongoing projects. City of Dreams Mediterranean will make the company a lot of money once the delayed project finally opens. Likewise, Melco is pushing to become one of the three integrated resorts in Japan. Ho wants to open a property in Yokohama, the second-largest city in Japan.

Links to Father Spark Crown Inquiry

Ho’s links to his controversial father sparked the inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold a Sydney casino licence. Ho was named as a director on one of the blacklisted company’s Crown promised not to deal with.

Packer agreed to sell AU$1.76 billion worth of shares to Melco. Half the sale went through before the inquiry put paid to the remaining 50%. Subsequently, the Bergin inquiry deemed Crown unsuitable to hold a Sydney gaming licence, and it may lose its Melbourne licence, too.