It's all a blur when you make it to the top

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 12:00am

Investment banking is not exactly a hotbed of activity at the moment, bar the odd million-dollar settlement with regulators in the United States.

In Hong Kong, however, we have to make do with comings and goings.

The latter seem to have stabilised for now, but the odd shuffle still tweaks a bit of interest.

Yesterday, it was the turn of Citigroup, with speculation rife that Gordon Paterson, the firm's current head of mergers and acquisitions, is to be appointed head of investment banking in Asia.

Who better to call but senior executives at the company for confirmation?

One of Lai See's colleagues managed to pin one down for a brief chat.

Had Mr Gordon actually secured the post?

'Who's Gordon Paterson?' was the reply.

'Er, possibly your new boss,' the reporter suggested.

It was then the executive admitted: 'Well, I go to the meetings with all the managing directors every Monday and they all look familiar, but I don't know all of their names.'

Such blissful oblivion. Bang go his promotion prospects.

two-faced policy

Chinese-language broadcaster Phoenix Satellite is taking no chances with employees' health.

It has a company-wide policy that everyone must wear a mask.

A bit draconian perhaps to make it mandatory.

But the press corps assembled to meet chief executive Liu Changle yesterday respected the policy.

They sat down, mouths fully covered with unattractive cotton masks, and awaited his arrival. When he did enter the room, his complexion was radiant. His smile bright. His facial expressions were evident.

Yes, he was not wearing a mask.

What is good for the goose is patently not good for the Changle.

Beatlemania lives

Wharf Holdings has gone all retro.

Teaming up with property agency Centaline, the developer unveiled the latest gimmick to flog its Sorrento apartments at Kowloon Station - the Beatles. As in the band.

Lai See was struggling with this one. The offer of 22 CDs of the Liverpudlians' finest tunes doesn't quite match a cash rebate or a shiny new car offered by other developers.

It was, however, entertaining to see four agents dressed up as members of the Beatles. And to see Wharf assistant director Ricky Wong standing with them holding, quite possibly, the world's largest fake Beatles CD.

But nah, as gimmicks go, it was underwhelming.

Relevance, there must be relevance.

Ah, but there is, Wharf insists.

The Sorrento apartments are a blast from the past. Low-rise without running water and electricity perhaps?

Not quite. Some of the fittings are in '70s style.

Could be your worst nylon nightmare. We kitsch you not.

A wee prank

The penny has finally dropped. Or should that be flushed?

Microsoft has denied an April 1 press release which announced that it had come up with the world's first Web-enabled toilet, the iLoo.

iLoo was to be a public toilet with a built-in wireless terminal for Web browsing. Except it does not exist.

Lai See thought tekkies were sad to believe it in the first place.

Microsoft was obviously taking the urine.

generous to a fault

A tug at your heartstrings indeed: Philip Anschutz, former chairman of Qwest Communications, is to give US$4.4 million in personal profits to charity.

According to the New York Times, Mr Anschutz made the gains from hot stock offerings.

The problem is that these were allotted to him by an investment bank hoping to win other business. In other words, 'spinning'.

'In light of our own philanthropic activities, we concluded that it is in the best interests of both Qwest and Anschutz Co that we settle this matter through charitable donations,' a spokesman for Mr Anschutz said on Tuesday.

'We have stated there was no wrongdoing here, and we believe that this settlement very clearly reflects that.'

Definitely a new spin on the true spirit of charity.

Got a question for Lai See? Tel: 2565 2632 Fax: 2565 1624


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