Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 12:07 UK

Weak debut for Macau casino firm

Casino tycoon Stanley Ho

Shares in the casino operator owned by Macau tycoon Stanley Ho have fallen on their debut in Hong Kong.

Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) dropped 1.3% in a listing that comes after months of delay, due to legal wrangling with Mr Ho's sister.

The weaker economic climate, as well as challenges faced by Macau's gaming sector as China curbs visitor numbers, also put investors off, analysts said.

Mr Ho plans to use the funds from the listing to revamp his casinos.

Trading was scheduled to start last week, but was delayed by a last-minute legal challenge by Mr Ho's sister Winnie.

After losing the ruling on Tuesday, she pledged to take her case to the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong.

At the listing ceremony in Hong Kong, Mr Ho, 86, said: "You all know our path towards the listing has not been smooth.

"But we have successfully overcome a series of obstacles, turning challenges into opportunities," he added.

SJM, which owns the Lisboa casino, had a monopoly on gambling in Macau, the former Portuguese territory, for four decades until 2002.

But it has struggled to compete against its glitzy foreign rivals, operated by US firms Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts, which are trying to dispel Macau's seedy image and turn it into a place for family entertainment.

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