Morgan Stanley onto a winner with tasty crowd pleasers
Morgan Stanley's Asian investor forum which kicked off this week will be slightly different this year. The forum, which is expecting more than 1,000 guests, will be held in-house as a cost-cutting measure within the 16 floors it leases in the International Commerce Centre in West Kowloon.
More interestingly, Morgan Stanley is not only focusing on feeding the minds of those that attend, but also their stomachs. To that end every day has a cooking theme with a celebrity chef to prepare the food. Today for example is xiao long bao day and the chef from the award winning restaurant chain Ding Tai Feng which specialises in this style of cooking will be toiling over a hot stove for Morgan Stanley's guests.
Just like good financial information, news of this treat has percolated through the market and there may be some people with little or no business with Morgan Stanley, who are planning on turning up just to sample the food. The response from Morgan Stanley to this has been 'the more the merrier', since this will enable it to report a higher attendance figure for the event back to their masters in New York.
From frocks to rocks
We have watched with interest the rise of Diana Footitt's eponymous public relations enterprise Artemis Associates, Well, eponymous in the sense that Artemis, in Greek mythology was the goddess of the wilderness, the hunt and wild animals, and fertility. Her counterpart in Roman mythology was Diana. The ancients tell us she was not to be trifled with. The unfortunate Actaeon who gazed at her too long, having unexpectedly come across her bathing in a forest stream, was turned into a stag and torn to pieces by his hunting dogs. So much for mythology. Artemis burst on the Hong Kong scene with a bang last June when it secured the contract for Prada's IPO. Such was her commitment, Diana appeared at the fashion show for the IPO road show impressively attired in Prada.
She may well get the opportunity to wear something more exotic soon, since Artemis is handling the public relations for the IPO of London-based jeweller Graff Diamonds, which has processed some of the world's most illustrious gems. By some happy coincidence it could be that Footitt and her husband Nick will meet up at one of the IPO events since Morgan Stanley, where Nick heads corporate communications, is also one of the book runners for the IPO.
A friendly word of advice
One gentleman at HSBC's informal shareholder's meeting yesterday offered some old-fashioned advice to the bank, which it has to be remembered has its origins in Hong Kong. He suggested the bank focus more on Asia adding that Hong Kong should be its number one market and staff should be increased rather than cut. He drew executives' attention to HSBC's advertisement at Heathrow airport, boasting of 'a sea of opportunity', and sensibly advised them to be humble and not to exaggerate. Finally, he complained that although his HSBC account often had amounts of up to seven digits, the bank charged him a total ofUS$50 every month. ' When the bank is being pinched don't take client's money,' he advised since that encouraged them to look elsewhere for their banking services, and implied a lack of integrity. Chairman Douglas Flint thanked him for his thoughts adding, 'I'll get Peter [Wong Tung-shun] to look into the last issue.' Lai See's view is that since the financial crisis, gouging customers is the new norm for banks.
Too good to be true?
There is an expression, 'Never look a gift horse in the mouth.' But every now and then it pays to have a second look. Take the apparently generous offer from Mavis Sibanda, who is the minister counsellor of Zimbabwe's embassy in China. At the Africa Day seminar in Hong Kong yesterday, she offered free land to any Hong Kong or mainland investor willing to help build a five-star hotel in the second-largest city of Bulawayo. Zimbabwe is not known for its rule of law, so if something looks too good to be true then it probably is.
You know things aren't going well in Japan when a pair of melons sells only for 1 million yen (HK$97,000) The box set of two melons was sold in the northern city of Yubari, a region famed for the fruit, at the first auction of its annual harvest, The Daily Telegraph reports. The orange-fleshed melon is a delicacy in Japan. Those with a perfectly circular form, an evenly patterned rind and a neat stalk are highly prized. The highest price paid in Japan for a pair of Yubari melons was 2.5 million yen in 2008. This year's low price was attributed to the prevailing economic uncertainty.