Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 June, 2012, 12:00am


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HSBC poised to make legal move to reoccupy Central HQ space

We hear that at long last HSBC has decided to bite the bullet and take steps to get the 'Occupy Central' movement to stop occupying the space under the bank's Queens Road headquarters. We understand the bank is poised any day now to go to court for a summons to repossess the area.

This land belongs to the bank, though it was designated a passageway in 1983. This means people have the right to walk through the area but not to pitch a tent. Once a summons is issued, a bailiff will be appointed and he will inspect the site and ask the occupants to leave by a certain time. If they don't comply, he returns - no doubt accompanied by a contingent of Asia's Finest to see that the summons is complied with.

Many people would say: 'not before time'. Hong Kong's Occupy movement has not added much to the debate about excess salary and bonus payments in the finance industry, which is what triggered the movement globally. It could have localised the issue and drawn attention to the eye-watering salaries and emoluments that some of Hong Kong's corporate leaders command while comparing these to the median monthly income of Hong Kong people, which at the end of last year stood at a princely HK$11,000. Maybe they could reoccupy it later when they have something useful to say.

The plums of restructuring

There's more movement in the financial corporate communications sector. Adam Harper, who was caught up in the restructuring at Credit Suisse, has been a beneficiary of the restructuring at HSBC. CEO Stuart Gulliver's new broom has opened up a new position and Harper will be in charge of communications for global banking and markets. Meanwhile, insurance company AIA has finally filled what is considered by the industry as a plum position. That is, the head of corporate communications slot that became vacant some six months ago when Paul Scanlon left after a surprisingly short spell with the firm. The new man is Stephen Thomas, who used to head Citi's communications for its China operations. This leaves just one plum position to be filled over at JPMorgan which is still vacant following Matthew McGrath's departure some months ago.

Flying on empty

We recently wrote about Hong Kong Airlines and that cash did not seem to be flowing as freely through the company as many of its creditors would like. We noted Hong Kong Aircraft Corporation had given the airline another month to complete payment of a US$20 million maintenance bill before turning the matter over to their lawyers. The aircraft now has to be cleaned by cabin attendants since this is cheaper than hiring a cleaning firm. We gather the Airport Authority takes a dim view of the way the company conducts its business and has indicated this to the firm. The authority is also unimpressed with the amount of money it is owed by HKA.

The airline's controlling shareholder Hainan Airlines is believed to have deep pockets but these funds do not appear to be helping HKA, which doesn't seem to have a marketing budget and is flying virtually empty to London and back.

Silvio at it again

Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi hasn't lost his knack for ruffling feathers, this time for suggesting that the beleaguered southern European economy could benefit from leaving the euro zone, Bloomberg reports. Berlusconi, whose party provides vital support to Prime Minister Mario Monti's government, said on Wednesday that the idea of Italy leaving the euro shouldn't be seen as 'blasphemy' and it could help exports without hurting the economy. But Italian Economic Development Minister Corrado Passera has dismissed the comments as 'not helpful at all'.

'It's a proposal that has nothing to do with common sense,' Passera said yesterday. 'I am totally against, and we are totally against any hypothesis of Italy leaving the euro.'

Oh, to be in London - or not

Jamie Dimon has spent another day before US lawmakers trying to explain how JPMorgan lost US$2-3 billion. This time, as the Daily Telegraph reports, he denied accusations that JPMorgan's chief investment office was located in London to benefit from the 'London Loophole' and that US banks had moved to London to benefit from the lighter regulatory regime.

Dimon said the bank's loss could have occurred anywhere, adding that he thought it unlikely that bank staff would move from New York to London. 'They will not go to London, but I can assure you they will go to Singapore or China,' he said. Hmmm