Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 January, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 January, 2004, 12:00am


The latest round of Hong Kong's epic spat over the regulation of listed companies turned a technical corner on December 31 as the deadline closed for concerned parties, vested interests and David Webb to make submissions to the government on the topic.

To recap, the government U-turned on an Expert Group's proposal last year that the whole listing shebang be wrenched from Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing and handed over to the Securities and Futures Commission. The government then came up with the bright idea of another consultation.

For such a prolonged issue, it comes as a bit of a surprise that both the SFC and HKEx missed the deadline to submit views. Not quite made our minds up yet?

IBA above board

An end-of-year Merrill Lynch research note playfully listed some world-beating accomplishments of Hong Kong banks. Our favourite item on the top 10 list was item four, which noted that International Bank of Asia (IBA) might be a minnow but not so its fat-cat board of directors.

IBA's 10-member board took home $21.1 million in 2002 - not overwhelming until you consider this was 9 per cent of net profit for the year. One director took home $12.5 million to $13 million.

As Merrill concluded: 'No wonder Fubon Financial, which plans to acquire IBA, expects to be able to improve the bank's efficiency - without that one highest-paid director, the bank's 2002 cost-income ratio would have been lowered by 1.5 percentage points.'