Firm suffers year-on-year freebie failure

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 March, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 March, 1996, 12:00am

So you think Hong Kong shareholders sometimes behave badly? The buffet battles that have been seen in the past at meetings of Hutchison Whampoa and some other firms in the territory is nothing compared to what went on in India this week.

Antics at the annual meeting of Kelvinator of India on Monday were brought to my attention by Gary Greenberg of Peregrine Asset Management in Hong Kong.

About 500 shareholders turned up and blocked the meeting in New Delhi for almost two hours. This was not because they disagreed with any of the resolutions - it was because the location and the freebies were not up to scratch.

First, they turned their noses up at the function room, an air-force auditorium. 'That angered many shareholders, who felt it should have been held in a five-star hotel, befitting Kelvinator's status,' said Rajendra Bajpal, reporting on the spot for Bloomberg.

One shareholder told the meeting: 'There is no water; there is no tea; and last year's gift was a blot on Kelvinator's name.' Worried by the seething crowd, executives formed a quick huddle and decided to give each shareholder a portable food-warmer and a pen. This was not a good idea because the previous year's gift had been a pen, which shareholders had complained didn't work.

The audience then started battling with security guards. Chairman J.R. Desai decided to adjourn the meeting until next month and tried to leave, Bloomberg reported.

Shareholders changed their minds and said they would accept the gifts rather than wait for another meeting, and that he might as well go ahead with his resolutions.

When he started to read them out, the crowd shouted that it was too boring to do them one at a time. 'All passed,' they hollered. Former actor Ralph Pixton started reading the news as usual on RTHK at 1.00 pm yesterday. Listeners were surprised to hear his authoritative tones followed by some odd non sequiturs in silly voices and the sound of large numbers of people laughing.

Was Ralph having one of his funny turns? No, a change in the wind or something caused a bit of a comedy show from the BBC World Service to overlap with Pixie's faultless transmission.

Lucky it wasn't Barry Norman's Movie Night.

Pixie: When asked to comment on the missile crisis, President Lee Teng-hui said . . .

Clint Eastwood: 'Go ahead, punk. Make my day.' An Internet traveller called Phil tells me that the in-house movie show at the JC Mandarin Hotel in Shanghai last week was 'Cleffhanger [sic], a comedy starring Sylvester Stallone'. Nice to see the Shanghainese have acquired a sense of irony. The Hong Kong police yesterday said they would get professional accountants to look after their $10 billion budget. So where was it before? In a jar on the fridge? Remember that collection of mega-uncreative building names featured on this page recently? The co-ordination for yesterday's sea rescue was carried out from a Sheung Wan government office in a multi-storey car park building called Multi-Storey Car Park Building. Richard Gibson of Discovery Bay was surprised to read on an Internet news bulletin: 'In a recent television interview Pat Buchanan insisted that he, for one, was not descended from monkeys.' Richard commented: 'Mr Buchanan's statement must be of considerable relief to monkeys everywhere.' Reader Michael Sandpearl took me to task for suggesting that 'visual' was unnecessary in the title 'Japan Visual Arts Exhibition'. 'It is very common to describe many forms of music as arts,' he argued. True, Michael, but when did you last see a concert or rock gig described as an art exhibition? This comes to you courtesy of the cynical types at the Canadian Broadcasting Co: Q: What is Canada's greatest problem, ignorance or apathy? A: I don't know and I don't care.