with Ben Kwok
culture development firms steer clear of Arts festival sponsorship
So just how are our property developers positioning themselves to turn Hong Kong's cultural desert into a Renaissance?
We have taken a look at corporate sponsorship of the Hong Kong Arts Festival and noted that only two of the six West Kowloon Culture Development property firms are listed.
We are glad to see Sun Hung Kai Properties sponsored the San Francisco Symphony (and associate KMB sponsored a Chinese opera). Sino Land, whose chairman Robert Ng Chee Siong is an ardent supporter of the Hong Kong Ballet, sponsored the Eva Yerbabuena Ballet Flamenco along with casino king Stanley Ho Hung-sun.
But last year's sponsors Henderson Land Development, Wharf (Holdings) and Chinese Estates Holdings were absent while Cheung Kong (Holdings) was absent for the second year.
With Hong Kong's largest cultural project still hanging in the air, we wish the money-saving property firms good luck in winning brownie points from Chief Secretary and art lover Rafael Hui Si-yan.
CNOOC gives reporters new year cheer
CNOOC first-footed 2006 with an independent shareholders revolt, so it should come as little surprise that Christmas was not exactly a bundle of laughs for the company either. Apparently, it forgot it altogether.
The company's financial boss Yang Hua (right) belatedly offered a dose of festive spirit at its Lunar New Year lunch yesterday, handing reporters a Christmas gift set of Lindt chocolates, Blue Diamond nuts, short cake and Pu Er tea leaves. Not to ignore the festive tradition, Mr Hua also gave each reporter a $100 lai see packet.
For all those who wondered what CNOOC was doing with its huge war chest (it failed to take over Unocal Corp but did manage to get a Nigerian oil field), look no further than the company's philanthropic generosity.
in with the old, out with the old
Morgan Stanley's annual spring luncheon provided reporters with a curious spectacle.
Eyes were agog as chief executive Alasdair Morrison pulled out his pocket diary - not a BlackBerry, not even a Palm Pilot - to show that he needed to leave early for another appointment.
'This is the way to go,' beamed a proud Mr Morrison, as he waved his pocket diary in the air.
The executive is obviously a man of simple needs. Let's just hope the horse-drawn carriage got him to his next appointment on time.
li keeping towngas in the family
Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po may be joining the ranks of Lee Shau-kee in believing that Hong Kong and China Gas is undervalued.
In the past four months, Mr Li accumulated three million shares of the utility for more than $48.6 million, taking his total stake to 15 million shares. Likewise, Mr Lee has spent $241 million on shares through his flagship Henderson Investment in the past three weeks.
Shares of Towngas jumped as much as 5.3 per cent to a historic high of $17.80 before closing at $17.55 yesterday.
Asked why Mr Li was a keen buyer of Towngas, he replied that he was a big fan of Lee Shau-kee.
So why not buy Henderson Land shares instead? It seems Mr Li is sentimental. He is a Towngas director, as was his father, so it's a family thing. Never mind, Mr Lee. Imitation is still the sincerest form of flattery.
farewell, my misguided bostonian
Lai See would like to express his gratitude to associate editor Tom Mitchell, who is moving on from the South China Morning Post to pastures new. For the past 19 months, Tom has edited copy of Lai See, injecting raw wit and literary finesse that has helped give the column a new lease of life.
It has been an immensely enjoyable working relationship, our only differences being in the ball park. The Bostonian is a big Red Sox fan, while this writer only tunes in to rival New York Yankees games.
Lai See will from now on be reverting to his Yankees uniform but doffs his cap to Tom. All the best!