Pioneer-Regent corporate slugfest set to add new chapter to The Art of War

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 September, 1996, 12:00am

The friction between Pioneer Holdings and Regent Pacific Fund is descending into a colourful boardroom battle of mythic proportions.

The story so far: Regent Pacific, a Hong Kong finance house, is conducting a corporate raid on Pioneer, an investment holding company.

Regent boss Peter Everington has made various accusations against Pioneer chairman Anthony Gaw, arising out of telephone conversations which he (Mr Everington) claims to have on tape.

Mr Gaw eventually told Regent that he was not going to talk to them any more.

He didn't talk. He wrote. A succession of handwritten faxes, signed by Mr Gaw have appeared in the offices of Mr Everington.

The tone of these suggests that all is not lovely-dovey between the two Hong Kong businessmen. 'Mad dog . . . check with a doctor that you don't have rabies,' was one succinct little observation. The first face-to-face showdown between the two was scheduled for Tuesday last week. Mr Everington, alleging he was armed with a sheaf of 'bombshells', and well prepared to confront the businessman.

Mr Gaw surprised his critics by simply failing to turn up. The meeting was chaired by his 25-year-old son, and turned into a 41/2-hour fiasco.

Where was Mr Gaw? Judging by the details on faxes received by Regent last week, he was in the United States.

But was he? At the end of the meeting on Tuesday, Pioneer staff grabbed a news photographer who had been taking pictures of people at the meeting.

They separated him from a group of six reporters and detained him in their offices, asking him to hand over his camera.

Other reporters threatened to call the police, and the snapper was duly released.

What or who had he captured on film? No one knows.

The final showdown has been set for tomorrow. Will Anthony Gaw turn up? Will Peter Everington get to explode any bombshells? So far, this has been a tale of threats, abuse, mysterious photographs, secret taped conversations and rabies.

The Hong Kong business community. A class act. With mad cow disease at the back of his mind (so to speak), M&C Saatchi boss Michael Moszynski peered anxiously at the menu of the Mandarin Grill.

'Certified American beef,' it said. Various pro-Beijing types sent me the recent picture of the Patten family in the back of a car as they came back from holiday. They dared me to print their messages, the gist of which was: 'They're not wearing back seat seat-belts and are breaking the law and should be locked up.' Boy, are our jails going to be full after 1997. The annual Sedan Chair race, mostly run by teams of business people letting their hair down, has raised $17 million since 1975, and organisers want to raise the running total to $20 million on October 12.

A pre-race briefing for this year's event is on Thursday this week, and there are a few vacancies left (call 2849 6852).

After last year's race, the official banner was nicked from Jardine's Corner by persons unknown. What sort of joke it that? Stealing from a charity.

Co-ordinator Dorothy Ryan yesterday offered an amnesty through this column. 'If the guilty party wishes to leave the banner on the doorstep of the Outpatients Department of the Matilda Hospital, no questions will be asked.' If you don't return it and we find out who you are, you may end up on the doorstep of the Outpatients Department. Are you, like me, fed up of all this talk about 'electing' a chief executive? Some bloke is going to be foisted upon 6,200,000 innocent people by a miniscule 0.006 per cent of the population.

The British system may have been worse, but they never pretended it was democratic.

Selection Committee chairman Qian Qichen said last month the nomination would be 'historic' because 'Hong Kong people will be able to participate in democratic politics for the first time in history'.

I'm giving up telling jokes. The competition's too good. The Sha Tin sign suggesting that dogs who defecate will be prosecuted should be altered, says Howard MacKay. 'In the public housing estates, this could now be modified to: 'Offenders will be executed'. ' Thought for the day: Always remember you are unique. Just like everyone else.