Lai see

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 August, 2005, 12:00am

Lai sun saviour emerges from depths of debt to answer his higher calling

What could be more rewarding than turning around a company after eight long, hard years? The study of the divine, apparently.

Later this month former Lai Sun director Keith Wu Shiu-kee will take a sabbatical year to study theology at Regent College in Vancouver.

Mr Wu joined Lai Sun in November 1997 and helped guide Peter Lam Kin-ngor's property flagship through eight difficult years, after the company overpaid for the Furama Hotel at the height of the 1990s property bubble.

'Mr Wu assumed a leading role in [our debt restructuring] exercise and made a valuable contribution ... throughout these eventful years,' Lai Sun said in a stock exchange announcement.

The divinely inspired Mr Wu told one of Lai See's colleagues that his time at Lai Sun had taught him much about hard work and faith. 'Not everything is under man's control,' he pronounced.

How ironic, however, that he should be leaving just as the property market's recovery is in full swing. His fate reminds us of Moses, who led his people to the Promised Land but could not enter it himself.

While we're on Christian themes, such as redemption, Lai See would like to add another - of forgiveness.

In 1996, when Mr Wu was head of research at Peregrine, he passed us over for an analyst job. But Lai See holds no grudge on that score. But then it's easy to be a model of humble forgiveness when you remember that Peregrine later collapsed.

inside job

Replacing Mr Wu at Lai Sun, by the way, is Carlton Poon Kam-tao, former head of research at Worldsec Securities.

Some may remember that Mr Poon was one of the few brokers (later nicknamed the 'royal cats') who helped the Hong Kong government snap up shares in its effort to stave off speculators during the depths of the Asian financial crisis. Others will recall that he was also convicted of insider trading three years ago.

flying on a wing and a prayer

Taiwan's China Airlines has troubles enough without shooting itself in the foot - or should we say, wing?

Our transportation and logistics reporter receives - unbidden - many a model aeroplane from the airlines he covers. Not many, however, come with just one wing - as China Airlines' plane did yesterday.

Could it be a brilliant new breakthrough in aeronautical design?

rosso looks to wealth

Merrill Lynch public relations head R.G. Rosso has flown the coop to head up marketing at UBS Wealth Management.

The multi-cultural Mr Rosso, who is of Italian and Taiwanese origin, has been with Merrill for five years - his last day was Friday - and begins his new assignment next month.

all quiet at genting

Lai See has just returned from an enjoyable and relaxing trip with his wife and in-laws to Malaysia, where for the first time he visited the famous Genting Resort and Casino.

Two weeks ago a group of 344 mainland tourists at Genting's First World Hotel protested when they were given breakfast vouchers with pigs stamped on them. It was a harmless enough touch designed to distinguish them from Muslim clientele who don't eat pork, but Lai See's mainland cousins took offence.

While Lai See encountered no such dramatic cross-cultural confusion during his stay, we did find the service somewhat lacking - it took repeated requests and no small wait to get a bowl of congee at breakfast. We were also surprised at the thin crowd of punters at the casino.

For our money, Macau still remains the region's premier gambling centre.