Sunday, 11 July 2010

Getting into the Business of Death

Casino mogul Stanley Ho is getting into the death business.

His company, Shun Tak Holdings is going to build a multi-storey columbarium in Macau to compete with private suppliers in Hong Kong.

Also those supplying columbariums in Hong Kong are facing lots of protests from residents who don't want the urns of the dead near where they live; but with land at a premium, those who have passed on need a place to rest.

Which is why Ho is taking advantage of the situation by offering the deceased in Hong Kong the option of having a peaceful afterlife in the former Portuguese enclave.

Construction is already underway on the five-floor facility on a reclaimed site in an old industrial district in northern Taipa. It should be completed by the middle of next year.

When finished, the HK$900 million ($115.8 million) columbarium will provide 50,000 niches to Macau, Hong Kong and Zhuhai markets, according to Shun Tak's latest annual report.

"Upscale and contemporary, the columbarium offers one-stop solutions to purchasers seeking an environment with a tranquil setting," it said.

Hmm. How convenient.

The company is even planning to offer annual ferry ticket concessions to niche buyers and even direct coaches to the facility after the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is opened, according to Lai Hau-yan, a Hong Kong-based funeral agent.

Apparently these units are going for between HK$20,000 to HK$50,000 ($2,573-$6,433), and it will be interesting to see how Ho's company markets them and how they are received by the public.

Currently in Hong Kong, about 40,000 people die per year, which is a stark contrast to 1,600 who pass away in Macau. Also, local columbariums in the casino city are only a few thousand dollars.

Hong Kong is planning to build 12 more columbariums in seven districts, including Kwai Chung, Cheung Chau and Mui Wo. But in recent days many people are protesting the proposed construction of these buildings, saying the ash from the incense and offerings will blow into their apartments, thus affecting the property value.

It's quite obvious Ho is jumping into a potentially lucrative market that looks like a sure win.

So does this mean he hopes the deceased will be gambling in the afterlife too?


  1. well ole Stanley has always been ahead of his time in terms of business opportunities!

  2. it makes good sense since hong kong is so crowded. an excellent and innovative venture indeed. good for him.