Gambling parlours bet on stock flotation
THE Japanese have been debating the merits of allowing pachinko gambling parlours to float on the stock exchange.
There appear to be three minor problems: Pachinko parlours may be illegal; Lots of pachinko parlours are run by mobsters; Pachinko parlour operators have topped the list of private tax evaders for 10 years in a row.
Even in Hong Kong, this would be a bit much.
But Japanese brokerages are so desperate for business that the brokers are trying to think of ways to get the parlours floated.
After all, these arcades full of gambling machines - like pinball tables without the flippers - are the largest business in Japan apart from car-making.
The Nikkei Weekly , that indispensable guide to everything Japanese, has this week been reporting on the progress.
One of the parlours is edging towards a listing on the over-the-counter market, and is boasting that it has thrown out the criminal syndicates.
Unfortunately it now experiences a remarkable rate of 'accidental' damage to its windows.
Still, that's the price one pays for becoming a listed company.
We reckon the pachinko places may well pull it off.
After all, Japan is a country where last year it was possible to buy shares in Cowboy Co.
Letter bomb THERE'LL be queues outside the Convention Centre on March 12.
It's the first day of the Second Hong Kong EROTIC Symposium.
On the posters it looks remarkably attractive - but once punters get inside they might be disappointed.
EROTIC is the Europe Research Organisation for Treatment and Investigation of Cancer.
Music leeson IAN Perkin, the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce's budgetologist, noticed that Barings was not only a merchant bank, but in Victorian days it was a cultural icon to boot.
Gilbert and Sullivan, the most English of comic composers, wrote the following verse in Iolanthe: The shares are a penny, and ever so many, Are taken by Rothschild and Baring. And just a few are allotted to you, you Awake with a shudder, despairing.
This rhyming of 'Baring' and 'despairing' was a little premature, given that the bank operated as well as any other for a further 113 years after the verse was composed.
But it just shows: all stock market forecasts come true - one day.
Environ-mental IF you feel a sudden desire to know about 900 British companies operating in Hong Kong, then you will need The British Directory 1995 - an official publication of both the British Chamber of Commerce and the British Trade Commission, which between them will have enough Union Jack underwear to totally fill the Kai Tak nullah.
It's not exactly the most environmentally friendly publishing project.
Those who want to chop trees down will have to pay $275 for a paper version.
But those who opt for a computer disk will have to pay a whopping $5,200 - and to top it off, the venerable publishers still chop down some trees and send out a paper version too.