Li conducts an able & tireless search in the sun

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 12:00am

'You say potato, I say pot-a-to, you say tomatoe, I say tomato . . . let's call the whole thing off.'

Dum de dum.

Oh, sorry, right, back to PCCW.

So it seems the company has now gone cold on Cable & Wireless (C&W) after proclaiming its intention to eventually put some kind of offer on the table.

PCCW regrets any confusion about its intentions.

Ho hum.

Well at least chairman Richard Li Tzar-kai got a holiday out of it.

Apparently the bespectacled boss was sunning himself in the Caribbean during the Lunar New Year.

Ooops, we mean he was doing due diligence on C&W companies.

For example, the company has been operating in the Cayman Islands for 34 years under a government franchise.

It also has operations in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados . . . the list goes on.

Except it is unclear how extensive PCCW's due diligence was, given that the companies were unlikely to be opening the door to key financial information at such an early non-stage of PCCW's advances.

So presumably then the 'due diligence' was along the lines of digging out company reports. And sipping the odd Pina Colada.

Poor lamb.


Guffaws and chortles have given way to mumblings of discontent at the top end of the legal market.

It seems Hong Kong's horse-haired finest have been subjected to a dose of economic frugality.

Gone are the days when a highly-paid barrister would skip home without his or her fees being subjected to judicial scrutiny.

Counsel are now having their fees queried. And reduced.


And it is the top few per cent who are raising the most eyebrows among thrift-conscious judges who think HK$100,000 an hour is just a bit on the silly side.

But some barristers have found an innovative way of dealing with the situation.

They refuse to take the cut.

Enter the solicitor who arranged the fees with the barrister. A deal is a deal and they have to make up for the shortfall.

As one barrister bluntly put it, '**** you, that's what I'm charging'.

Good to see them knuckling down with the rest of us.

It's a hard old life.


PCCW seems to be spending so much time trying to get its chequebook out, it has forgotten the basics of telephone services.

A reader discovered this when trying to get in touch with the company's finance director, Alex Arena.

The number, he presumed, would be exactly the same as that of his predecessor's, Frederick Ma Si-hang, or even earlier, David Prince?


But surely there would be a friendly voice informing you of the correct number?


We dialled the old number for some clarity.

The number is invalid, an American-sounding woman tells us. Dial another number, or press zero for assistance.

Finally, some help on hand. We pressed zero.

'Zero is invalid. Goodbye.'

The cutting edge of phone technology, without a doubt.


Parties, parties everywhere.

You just wouldn't think that heads were rolling in the finance sector.

The stockbroking industry has even organised its very own event - and they are even giving the money raised to charity.

Times may be tough, but the big investment banks - UBS Warburg, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs etc - will all be at the first Asian Stockbrokers Awards Dinner on March 13.

Bankers and brokers will mingle for Hong Kong charities Crossroads International and the Hong Chi Association.

The ones who still have jobs - given the recent cull - we presume.

Many a head has rolled over the past few months, and there is no definite sign that this will end any time soon.

Quite depressing really.

A three course meal will be followed by coffee.

And hemlock.