Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 July, 2012, 12:00am


And none of the Twilight stars was even in attendance

It used to be said some years ago that Hongkongers don't read books. This view was readily dispelled during a visit to the Book Fair at the Convention and Exhibition centre for the first time in many years. It's not something for the faint-hearted. The area is vast and packed with people. Indeed, most of the crowd seemed to be teenage girls. But we were told that most of the visitors on the first few days are teenagers, and the more mature types turn up on Saturday morning to pick up professional texts. But there were bargains galore, with discounts of between 10 per cent and 40 per cent and more. Remarking on the crush of people at lunchtime, an exhibitor said it got really busy in the evenings. A pleasure, alas, we shall forgo.

Revolution at China Daily?

Although there is a looming crackdown on luxury goods for Chinese officialdom, we see with interest that the state-controlled China Daily devoted its entire front page to an advertisement for Louis Vuitton, the French luxury brand, to coincide with the opening of its flagship store in Shanghai.

As a result, the newspaper's main news picture of President Hu Jintao greeting South African President Joseph Zuma and his wife at the Great Hall of the People was relegated to Page 3 - a most unusual development.

Then again, the more cynical of our acquaintances suggested that the advertisement would have been better placed on the front page of the People's Daily, which is read mostly by party officials.

Not pretty, but still No 1

Despite its losses, Cheah Cheng Hye's Value Partners is still Asia's largest hedge fund, according to Institutional Investor. As of March 31, assets under management had fallen more than 9 per cent year on year to US$7.8 billion, and its flagship US$1.7 billion Classic Fund lost 17.2 per cent in 2011.

'Bottom-up stock picking didn't seem to work in such abnormal market conditions,' chief executive Timothy Tse Wai Ming told the magazine. That said, Value Partners still ended up No1 in the Asia Hedge 25, Institutional Investor's seventh annual ranking of the biggest Asia-based single-manager hedge fund firms, for a third straight year. Tokyo-based Sparx held on to the second place, although its assets shrank 20 per cent. Its success was due to switching its traditional focus on Japanse equities for a pan-Asian strategy. In third place was the sole representative of China's fledgling hedge fund sector - Hillhouse CM - with assets of US$5 billion.

Xinhua drops the veil

Xinhua News Agency, China's official news wire, reported revenue of 5.6 billion yuan (HK$6.81 billion) in 2011, a 72 per cent gain from 2010, Bloomberg reports. This is believed to be the first time Xinhua has revealed these figures. The figures, Bloomberg says, were published as a government budget report, not a financial statement, since Xinhua is an agency under the State Council. To put these figures in some context, Thomson Reuters reported revenue of US$13.8 billion in 2011, on which it made a loss of US$705 million, while the latest available figures we found for Bloomberg showed revenue of US$6.9 billion in 2009. Some people think the publication of these figures could be a prelude to Xinhua seeking to list all or part of itself on a stock exchange. Potential investors will no doubt be intrigued to know that Xinhua spent 16 million yuan on overseas trips, 26 million yuan on vehicles and 2.9 million yuan on banquets.

It's brass, stupid

One of the curiosities of this column is that it is often surprising as to what attracts attention. Last year, for example we wrote a piece wondering about the failure of the cherry tree outside the Hopewell Building to flower, only for a number of people to point out that the tree in question was a peach tree. Illegal car parking has proved to be the most popular issue, with countless pictures and complaints coming in. One day we received 19 pictures of illegally parked cars.

The point of this ruminating is that in a recent piece about the vampire squid (a.k.a. Goldman Sachs) opening an office in Perth, we ended the piece by saying, 'As they say in Yorkshire, where there's muck there's money.' A number of people, some with experience of Yorkshire, have e-mailed us to point out that the original expression is, 'Where there's muck there's brass.' Apologies to Yorkshire sensitivities for this. No longer firearms at dawn?

Today's court list is intriguing. It looks more like an arrangement for a duel: 'Handing down decision' - Hong Kong Rifle Association and Hong Kong Shooting Association - 2.30 open court.