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Macau – GEG Chairman Asia’s second richest man

By - 8 October 2013

Galaxy Entertainment Group founder Lui Che-Woo’s wealth has leapt by US$10.2bn in 2013, making him the second richest individual in Asia with a net worth of US$22.1bn. The 84-year-old billionaire added $1bn in a single day last week as Macau’s record gaming revenue saw his shares hit a new high. Only Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad have made more money this year.

Macau gaming revenue jumped 21.4 per cent to $3.6bn in September from a year ago, according to Macau’s Gaming Bureau. Gross gaming revenue in 2013 is expected to grow 17 per cent to $44.5bn from a record $38bn last year. Revenue surged despite a major typhoon in Hong Kong in late September. Visitors to Macau rose 14 per cent on October 1 and 2 amid China’s National Day holidays this week, when hotels triple their room rates.

Mr. Lui was born in 1929, in the city of Jiangmen in Guangdong province, after his family moved back to China from San Francisco, where they had made their fortune running a laundry. In 1934, Lui followed his family as they fled war-torn China for Hong Kong. At the age of 13, Lui began to support his family by selling food on the streets of the British colony.

As World War II ended, Lui bought surplus construction equipment left after US forces invaded Okinawa. He imported machinery to Hong Kong, which was undergoing a reconstruction boom, and made his first fortune.

When he couldn’t sell some stone crushers, he started a quarrying business. The 26-year-old then founded K. Wah Group, whose construction materials have been used in a quarter of all Hong Kong buildings. He invested the profits he made from construction into residential property development and later hotels in Hong Kong.

When Macau ended the four-decade monopoly held by Stanley Ho in 2002, Lui’s Galaxy Casino Co., with Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands (LVS), won one of the three gaming concessions put up by the local government. Within a year, the partners had split the license after a falling out over strategy: Adelson wanted to re-create Las Vegas in China, Lui wanted to cater to Asian tastes.

In 2006, StarWorld Macau opened across the street from SBM’s Grand Lisboa. Lui’s $1.9bn, 2,200-room Galaxy Macau resort, opened in 2011. Galaxy shares have soared 122 per cent in the past 12 months and reached a record high last week. Mr. Lui owns a 65 per cent stake in Galaxy directly and through a family trust.

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