Swire Group, whose activities span property, aviation, beverages, marine services, and trading and industrial, is a Hong Kong listed conglomerate. It is the parent of Hong Kong carrier, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Dragonair, and Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Co (Haeco) is a subsidiary. Swire Pacific and Swire Properties are the main listed arms of the group, which also owns Swire Hotels.
Why this ridiculous secrecy over Hong Kong associations?
We have recently taken an interest in a group called the Hong Kong Islands District Association (HKIDA). This is because a few months ago it suddenly showed up in the middle of the Shek Kwu Chau incinerator saga and was able to access environmental funds controlled by the Environment Bureau and take islanders off on subsidised trips to Singapore and Taiwan to look at incinerators. It has subsequently held surreptitious meetings with islanders in which it has sought to boost the government's plan of building a super incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau. Interestingly, the meetings have been chaired by Randy Yu, son-in-law of Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat. Lau has been a staunch government supporter and has made no secret of the fact that he does want the incinerator in his backyard, that is at Tsang Tsui in Tuen Mun, which is one of the locations that has been considered for the project.
The government has come round to his way of thinking. But we have been thwarted in our efforts to find out more about the HKIDA by the byzantine regulations surrounding societies. These organisations have to be registered with the Police Licensing Office. While we have discovered when the HKIDA was set up and its office address, we cannot find out who the office-bearers are. The police said we required the written consent of the office-bearers before information could be released. Since we don't know them, getting their permission may be difficult. The situation is clearly absurd, particularly when you consider that we can now go online, pay a fee, and search the records of a company in the companies registry. This secrecy over societies is anachronistic and the process should be modernised.
Many will have heard the old joke about the definition of a gold mine being a hole in the ground with a liar at the top. Fortunately that does not apply to Hong Kong-listed gold miner G-Resources. There is considerable joy in the company at present on account of it recently pouring the first gold and silver from its Martabe mine in North Sumatra, Indonesia. The company listed by way of a backdoor listing and then raised additional capital in July 2009 on the back of its Indonesia project. The aim was to ramp up production over the next few months to full capacity, the company said in a statement yesterday. That is, to reach production of 250,000 ounces per annum of gold and 2.5 million ounces per annum of silver. The news gave the share price a nice 4.5 per cent bounce to HK$0.465 in a lacklustre market.
Passengers behaving badly
We gather there were chaotic scenes at Chek Lap Kok airport on Tuesday in the wake of Typhoon Vicente. One reader travelling on Dragonair described the painfully slow check-in process with each passenger taking 5-10 minutes. Chatting to the check-in agent, he gathered that she had finished at 11pm on Monday evening and was back at work at 5am on Tuesday morning, having been collected by a company coach. As he was checking in, he couldn't help but notice a couple of passengers at the next counter screaming at the check-in agent, 'Can't you see, there is no time ... I must go today,' one said. Once he got airside, the situation deteriorated. He noticed one counter near gate 20 surrounded by what seemed like hundreds of people. One man stood out as he was yelling at the top of his voice, 'Get me a f*****g number' while hammering on the desk with his fist. Our reader says information was not flowing freely. First he was told his flight had no gate, and when he inquired, was told the flight would be delayed by four hours. However, 15 minutes later his flight had a gate and he had to run. He said Dragonair staff made the best of a bad situation, adding, 'But I can't believe the behaviour of fellow passengers.'
Spain is not Uganda
We have been watching Spain's rising debt yield with interest. About a month ago Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sent that arrogant text to his economy minister prior to bailout talks with the Germans: 'Resist, we are the 4th power of the EZ. Spain is not Uganda.'
Unsurprisingly this did not go down well in Uganda. However, following the bailout, things have not gone that well for Spain, with the 10-year benchmark yield at an unhealthy 7.7 per cent. When we rang Citibank's Kampala branch yesterday and asked for the yield on the government benchmark, we were told, 'There is no government benchmark yield.' We were told the yield on the one-year treasury bonds was 17 per cent, though we should mention inflation in Uganda is running at 18 per cent. So maybe Spain is not Uganda - not yet.