Ray's nasty cough is going, going, gone
WHO was that mystery bidder in the blue jacket? Part of the theatre of government land auctions, such as the one which took place yesterday, is in guessing who's bidding.
Sometimes tycoons turn up in person, but sometimes they want to remain anonymous, so they stay in their offices, bidding by mobile phone.
But this mobile phone business is risky: while the City Hall is being redecorated the land auction is being turned into a travelling circus, and there have been problems with some venues having walls too thick for radio waves.
So, increasingly, tycoons play funny games, taking side-kicks along to an auction whom they pretend not to know.
Yesterday's land auction included some bids from a mysterious woman in a blue jacket. No one could remember seeing this woman before.
Yet she was still prepared to offer $270 million for a major residential site in Yuen Long.
Ray Tse of World International - sorry, Wheelock and Co - seemed to have developed something of a hacking cough over the weekend, though.
Magically, the woman he had never met seemed to be able to cure this by raising her hand in the air.
Yet Wheelock says she wasn't one of their people at the auction. Perhaps this mystery woman should set herself up as one of those New Age medical practitioners.
One strange side-issue is that it's unusual to choose a woman as surrogate bidder. That's because tycoons are invariably male and it is common for in-depth mid-auction discussions to take place in the toilet.
Li-way TALKING of tycoons, didn't Li Ka-shing object vehemently to third parties issuing warrants on his company's shares? Yesterday's stock exchange data shows he's bought 2.6 million Robert Fleming warrants on Hutchison Whampoa.
Scotch and dry BALFOUR Beatty's Peter Keggin saw that W.L. Gore and Associates, the people who make the Goretex rainproof fabric, are shown in the Government Gazette as having received a UK patent for ''Bagpipes and a pipe bag therefor''.
W.L. Gore must be trying to create bagpipes that work in the rain.
Leaked info SURPRISING news from Great Wall Electronics over the weekend. Its interim profits fell from $78.7 million to $47.4 million, partly because its Huizhou plant had problems with the water supply.
No surprise for American investors, though. The prospectus for Great Wall's issue in the United States in August gave a full rundown of the problems, right down to the diameter of the pipes.
Pity Hong Kong investors had to wait a further three months for the bad news.
Also surprising was the share buy-back programme. The company bought back shares between April and September at prices between $1.56 and $1.30 because the ''shares were trading at a relatively low price per share and did not reflect the underlying value''.
But in August it issued shares in the US. The price was equivalent to $1.51. Logical? Red-hot profits AUSTRALIA'S Cleo magazine has a real exclusive in the December issue.
Hollywood star River Phoenix tells of his video favourites, saying: ''Terry Gilliam's Brazil is my best-ever video, particularly the scene where Robert De Niro and Bob Hoskins break into the computer centre.'' Next week: Cleo magazine reveals Marilyn Monroe's favourite CDs.
Incidentally, the issue has naughty pictures of some male film star, showing off his bottom and hairy chest. These are so hot they come in a special ''sealed section''.
BALtrans Holdings' annual report issued yesterday has a very similar ''sealed section''. Unfortunately, it was an error by the printer. When we opened it up there was a load of colour graphs showing profit growth 1989-1993.
Realistic DAVID Wong of Singamas Container Holdings is determined to differentiate his outfit from the mob of other small companies that have appeared on the local exchange over the past 12 months.
He kicked off a speech yesterday by saying: ''Since our listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange in July, I am pleased to say we have remained focused, we are on track and we have not gone into the real estate business.'' Incidentally CHINA Light and Power's annual report issued yesterday has some interesting choices of words. It details the ''passing'' of Lord Kadoorie, with a two-page tribute.
Meanwhile, if you look on page 27 under the heading ''Safety'' it has a reference to ''the hydrogen plant incident''.