Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 12:00am

Closer to the people

HSBC has been the most aggressive foreign bank to enter China and it seems its boss wants to see what he is buying into close up. Lai See hears that chairman Sir John Bond spent a day last week incognito in a hutong home of a family in the Houhai

district of Beijing. According to a bank spokeswoman he had

always wanted to do this in order to get to know Chinese people better. At the end of the visit, Sir John's host asked him what was his job. We understand he said something about being a Scottish bank clerk.

Banking on stocks

Restaurants in Hong Kong have long used $1 coupons as incentives to win repeat business. Wing Hang Bank looks to be stretching the concept by dishing out cheap shares to its employees in order to retain their services. A proposed 'employee incentive plan' will 'award' employees and executives for their 'contributions'. In return they will get stock for the princely sum of $1 a share. Not bad considering that the bank's share price closed yesterday at $50.25. Even better for toiling Wing Hang staff, it is proposing to have the discretion to make the pay-out in cash.

Hard to impress

Membership has its privileges just so long as you are in the right restaurant. Lai See was lunching at the Towngas Avenue yesterday in Causeway Bay with an advertising industry executive. When the bill arrived our companion cooly pulled out his go-anywhere, do-anything American Express Black Card. The card might be valued by serious consumers but it didn't impress our waiter. 'Do you have Visa or Mastercard?' came the sniffy reply.