SFC chief not trying to win friends at Hong Kong Club
We were saddened to hear that the Securities and Futures Commission's new regulations for IPO sponsors are less exciting than they seemed. 'I hate to disappoint you: We are not on a mission to put bankers in jail,' said Ashley Alder, the chief executive of the SFC, in a talk at the Foreign Correspondents' Club yesterday. 'We are trying to change behaviour.' He said the SFC would only pursue criminal charges if it found something materially untrue in a prospectus. Alder was scathing about some of the work investment banks had produced, saying it varied significantly between firms, and even within firms when it was evident they were doing more work than they could handle.
He said during discussions on prospectuses that he was staggered by the poor quality of some: 'The lack of care, and ill-thought-through presentations to the regulator were jaw dropping.' Despite the unpopularity regulators can generally expect, Alder is not without a sense of humour, kicking off his talk with a quote that had caught his attention. 'A good measure of his [Alder's] success will be how unpopular he can make himself at the Hong Kong Club.' We'll be checking on this intriguing benchmark.
Prada treats press like terrorists
Prada's first AGM in Hong Kong was a less than agreeable experience, at least for the press. We were initially lulled into thinking that we were welcome by an anxious corporate-communications minder, who invited half the office to attend. When we showed up at the Four Seasons hotel's grand ballroom, we were surprised by the serried ranks of security that greeted us. We were 15 minutes late and instead of ushering us into the meeting, we were initially refused access. The minders subsequently relented after a grumpy 'discussion'. And when we had to take a bathroom break there was more nonsense, as security tried to prevent us from re-entering the meeting. There is little benefit in treating the press like potential terrorists. Maybe as the film title suggests, there is something devilish about Prada.
Cosco AGM a long-distance call
Compared with the Prada AGM, the one for China Cosco was a more relaxed affair. The company seemed to have a clearer idea of what shareholders wanted. When they turned up at the Hong Kong headquarters on the 47th floor of Cosco Tower in Sheung Wan, they were greeted by company staff who immediately gave them a package containing sundry food items. A number of them wandered off, while others disappeared into the meeting room and emerged a few minutes later. This may have been because all of the company's executives were at the meeting that was being held in parallel in Beijing. There was an audio facility to listen to proceedings, and shareholders could ask questions and vote. Still, you would have thought the world's biggest owner of bulk carriers could have managed a better show.
US judge quick with Wilde quips
It's refreshing to come across a judge well-versed in Oscar Wilde. US District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin decided in favour of Gucci on four of five trademarks at issue after conducting a three-week infringement trial without a jury in Manhattan, Bloomberg reports. 'With the instant disputes now resolved and with Gucci's entitlement to their relief noted above, it is my hope that this ugliness will be limited to the runway and shopping floor, rather than spilling over into the courts,' Scheindlin said in her opinion. She was referring to Oscar Wilde's description of fashion as 'a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months'.
E-mail's impact marred by coda
Those on lawmaker and New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee's mailing list were startled last week to receive an e-mail asking for donations to help a police senior inspector in dire straits.
He narrowly avoided death, according to the e-mail, after being shot during a jewellery robbery in 1992, which left him without his sense of smell or taste. His life is once again under threat from lung cancer and he is now receiving treatment in Shanghai. But he has exhausted his savings on the treatment, as well as supporting his 16-year-old daughter, his wife and his ageing parents. The e-mail detailing Inspector Chan Sze-ki's circumstances is well meaning, but its impact was somewhat marred by this note at the end: 'We hope you enjoyed receiving this message.'
Those who want to donate can send a cheque to Chan Sze-ki, mark the envelope as a donation to him, and mail it to NPP Secretariat, Flats D-F, 11/F Chinese Overseas Building, 139 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, by May 25.