Leung Chun Ying

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 4:50pm

C.Y. may have role planned for city's environment chief

Speculation is mounting that Edward Yau Tang-wah, the secretary for the environment, is in line for a job in chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying's administration. This may come as a surprise, since his performance has been widely perceived as less than stellar. Should he ever speak about what has been a miserable experience, he will no doubt say that his hands were tied by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who had no desire to move on issues such as improving air quality since this could prevent pet infrastructure projects from going ahead. As a result, Yau spent five years sitting on his hands and when he couldn't avoid it, fudging environmental issues in the Legislative Council. The big surprise is that he is apparently being considered for director of the Chief Executive's Office, a position held by Professor Gabriel Leung. He has done a stint as director of government information. Another candidate for this job, according to the speculation, is Richard Yuen Ming-fai, who since last September has been permanent secretary for food and health. If Leung is looking for someone who does what he's told, Yau is his man.

Rusal nomination a sop to Putin?

Things are hotting up ahead of Rusal's annual general meeting on June 15. Rusal, it will be recalled, is the Russian aluminium giant listed in Hong Kong. It has announced on its website that Matthias Warnig has been nominated for a seat as an independent non-executive director on its board.

The significance of this is that Warnig, who is the head of Nord Stream, which operates the gas pipeline from Russia to Europe, is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He has previously been a chairman of the board at Russian pipeline giant Transneft, and a member of the supervisory board in Russian bank VEB.

Bloomberg says he is a former East German Stasi agent who has known Putin since 1991. When Rusal's chairman Viktor Vekselberg resigned in March, Hong Kong's Barry Cheung was elected in his place. However, it has emerged that he did not have the support of the Kremlin.

Lai See understands that Putin ordered the chief executive of Vnesheconombank, Vladimir Dmitriev, to block Cheung's candidacy by ordering the bank's man on the Rusal board, Anatoly Tikhonov, to nominate himself for the chairmanship. It was agreed that there would have been enough shareholder votes for this nomination once it was clear that was what the Kremlin had decided.

Instead, Tikhonov refused Dmitriev's order. This reflected Tikhonov's history with Rusal CEO Oleg Deripaska, which goes back to when Tikhonov was deputy governor of Krasnoyarsk and needed Deripaska's favour.

Tikhonov also refused to step down from the board, saying that could only be done at the Rusal annual meeting since he sat as an independent director.

The nomination of Warnig, according to some people, looks as if Deripaska is trying to pacify Putin with an independent foreigner more acceptable to the board.

There is also speculation that Cheung may be replaced as chairman by Warnig. But Cheung told Lai See that he has no reason to believe this will be the case.

Danes jilting HK for Guangzhou

The Danish consulate in Hong Kong is closing in August, apparently part of a cost-saving plan by the country's foreign ministry.

Interestingly, the Danes say they are shifting their focus to Southern China and Guangzhou.

Torben Gettermann, the consul general in Hong Kong, says there is increasing economic integration in the southern part of the mainland, with Guangzhou as the centre. 'In southern China we will see an adjustment of our export-promotion activities,' Gettermann explains. 'When the consulate in Hong Kong closes, the activities will therefore likely be handled by the nearby consulate in Guangzhou.'

A Danish innovation centre will remain open in Hong Kong. This office will in future be led by Martine Gram Barbry with a total of three local staff, and move to a cheaper location. And we all thought the threat to Hong Kong was Shanghai.

More pearls from JPMorgan CEO

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase's CEO, can never be accused of being at a loss for words. Here he is in 2010 talking to Fortune about taking big risks. 'The recognition of this crisis is that certain institutions that can be very vulnerable in downturns if they take on too much risk aren't going to just hurt their shareholders. They are going to hurt the system and, by extension, the taxpayer. ... Just what risks we take should be our judgment call, provided we avoid taking extensive risk.'