HK claws back a little face in investment rule pursuit

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 12:00am

Apart from being former British colonies, what do regional rivals Hong Kong and Singapore have in common?

That's a question not for debate in this column but White Collar suspects that, at the very least, the Securities and Futures Commission and the Monetary Authority of Singapore have compared notes. Perhaps it was just a coincidence but last week, the two regulators both issued press releases on the same subject - Ucits III.

Ucits III are international investment rules that allow funds to adopt a more flexible approach and invest in derivatives to enhance performance.

The rules are due to be implemented in January 2007 but Germany's regulator has thrown a cat among the pigeons as it started the authorisation process in November last year.

Since many fund houses operate globally, the German move has forced all other European and Asian regulators to start authorising Ucits III funds.

And the good news for Hong Kong? We are well ahead of Singapore this time.

An SFC press release said it had received 468 applications from Hong Kong funds eager to adopt the new rules and 353 had been approved.

A release from Singapore announced only guidelines for funds applying for Ucits III authorisation and said that the application process had just begun.

At least a little face has been regained for Hong Kong. Singapore already has four real estate investment trust (reit) listings while Hong Kong's first reit, issued by the Housing Authority, remains a continuing saga.

artful dodge

He's a busy chap but acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen gave no reason for breaking his promise to host the closing ceremony of the 33rd Arts Festival on Sunday.

He passed his ticket to Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen. Luckily, even though the face of the grand finale had altered, Hang Seng Bank had no change of heart. The audience was happy to accept a free glass of champagne.

A reception was held while White Collar met former accountant legislator Eric Li Ka-cheung.

Mr Li is no stranger to readers of this column - he was the subject of speculation over contenders for chairmanship of the SFC, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing and the proposed Financial Report Council.

'It is true that I would still like to take up some public duty, but it is not [one that is] on any of the speculation lists. When it is announced in two to three months' time, it may give you a surprise,' he said.

We await breathlessly.

It's the law

Suddenly, it seems, everybody wants to be a barrister.

Checkley Sin Kwok-lam, a director and general manager of Wing Hang Credit, is leaving at the end this month to study law at the City University of London.

Mr Sin is no stranger to our readers - he has featured in Kelvin Wong's Money Week column often in relation to giveaway rates on tax and personal loans.

Twenty years ago, after finishing secondary school, Mr Sin started his banking career as a clerk with Bangkok Bank. He became Wing Hang Credit's No1 nine years ago and has attained business bachelor and masters degrees along the way.

Mr Sin said he had no regrets in leaving Wing Hang. 'I have been a banker for 20 years and have been in the top post of my company. If I don't leave, I may well stay in the same position for another 20 years,' he said. 'It is time to achieve my dream of being a barrister.'

Another with his nose in the law books is ex-SFC corporate finance director Laurence Li, who left the commission last month to qualify as a Hong Kong barrister.

Before joining the regulator, Mr Li had been a lawyer in the United States.

Heads down, guys!

champers for champs

More bubbles. Veuve Clicquot has announced the shortlist for the Hong Kong Business Woman 2005 award.

The annual competition, a version of which is hosted by the champagne maker in 15 other cities, recognises women possessing outstanding leadership and entrepreneurial qualities.

The award pays tribute to Madame Clicquot Ponsardin, who, when widowed at the age of 27, took the reins of her husband's vineyard.

The shortlist has been whittled down to Jennifer Carver, the chief executive of financial company Oria Capital; Michelle Guthrie, the chief executive of the Star Group; and Joanna Hotung, the founder and managing director of Kids' Gallery.

The overall winner will be announced on April 18 - at a champagne dinner, of course.