The chairman and CEO of Melco Resorts and Entertainment, Lawrence Ho, has a firm grip on the company and just made it even tighter. He now controls 55.8% of Melco’s shares, an increase of 4.2% from what was seen last November. And, he doesn’t appear to be done making his move.
Melco announced last Friday in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that Ho now owns 770,477,237 shares and that it has options to buy another 4,596,981 ordinary shares, as well as 217,140 restricted shares, which are forecast to become vested in 60 days.
54.9% on Ho’s holdings are in companies for which he holds the majority stake, including Melco International Development Ltd and that entity’s subsidiary, Melco Leisure and Entertainment Group Ltd. His interest—both direct and indirect—in Melco International has also increased slightly since last November, from 54.05% to 55.05%.
Last November, Melco announced that it had approved a share repurchase program that sought to take in as much as $500 million shares over three years. In March 2018, the company completed another share repurchase that was completed for a total of $490 million-worth of company stock.
The repurchase program is designed to have Melco International’s indirect holdings of Melco Resorts outstanding share capital increase from around 53.78% to about 57.42% by sometime in 2021. According to Melco, the program “reflects the confidence of the company in Melco Resorts’ long-term strategy and growth prospects.”
The move could be in anticipation of an entry into the new Japanese integrated resort market, with Ho benefiting the most from the new revenue stream. The company has said that it would bid for one of the three first licenses, and Ho said last week, “We believe we are well placed in Japan with a strong local team actively working on the ground, engaging with the relevant stakeholders. We also believe our focus on the Asian premium segment, a portfolio of high-quality assets, dedication to world-class entertainment offerings, market-leading social safeguard system, and an established track record of successful partnerships will put Melco in a strong position.”