Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2006, 12:00am


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figure of fortune bestows $33m windfall on gold purveyor

Everything that glitters can be sold, and so it was when Hang Fung Jewellery - which is also famous for its golden toilet - made a hefty profit from selling its much-loved golden statue of shepherd-turned-monk Wong Tai Sin.

True to form, the god of fortune-telling has yielded a fat fortune for Hang Fung, which earned $33 million from the $58.33 million sale of the 433kg (or 13,922 ounce) statue at a reference price of US$552.75 per ounce.

Hang Fung said it was a good opportunity to realise its investment amid high gold prices.

To stay in the good graces of the fortune-stick-wielding Wong Tai Sin, Hang Fung will lease back the statue for the next three years for $4.08 million annually. But with gold prices continuing to glitter, one never knows what Hang Fung will sell next. Anybody want a golden toilet seat? Slightly used, but very shiny?

developer offers pearls of wisdom

Amid a less than golden property market, Hang Lung Group chairman Ronnie Chan Chi-chung has offered some kind words about the state of the rental segment.

With profound wisdom, he wrote in his latest interim report that full-year earnings would depend on whether they could sell flats, which in turn depended on the market - which, unfortunately, was beyond their control. 'The comforting fact is that in our industry, there is hardly any product obsolescence. Units not sold this period will not disappear; profits (which I do expect) from their sales will only come in later.'

It is perfectly understandable for Mr Chan to be gung ho about profitability: units at his most luxurious project, HarbourSide on West Kowloon, have sold for around $20,000 per square foot - about five times development cost.

business channel not always NOW

PCCW's Business News Channel did not kick off as smoothly as the company hoped. A couple of Lai See acquaintances said that at around 1am on Tuesday, when they tuned into BNC's Channel 333 on NOW Broadband TV, all they got was a blank screen, which meant they missed the US market closing.

A spokeswoman attributed the interruption to a system upgrade for selected customers. PCCW can be rightly proud for fixing the technical problem within hours. Ditto for our complaint that the NOW newsroom was impermeable to Sunday network's signals; we're happy to say that the mobile dead zone is up and alive again.

CLSA returning to ratings fray

CLSA's brokerage rivals may not exactly be shaking in their bankers' boots, but executive chairman Gary Coull's decision to rejoin the Asiamoney brokers survey this year is probably enough to make the ratings war more interesting, if not as controversial as last year when a CLSA country manager was accused of trying to rig the vote.

Readers may recall that some members of CLSA's equity sales team had helped a third-party fund manager fill up pro-CLSA ratings forms, probably heeding an internal CLSA email directing staff that 'vote rigging should be as discreet as possible'.

In a recent talk with the South China Morning Post, Mr Coull said they have installed the necessary mechanisms to avoid last year's embarrassing incident. The story goes that nobody at CLSA's Asian offices is allowed to use the words 'vote' and 'rig' in the same email.

retailer without borders

To show that it means business with its new marketing slogan - 'World without strangers' - Giordano has instituted some truly borderless services.

According to chairman Peter Lau Kwok-kuen, Giordano loyalists who lose their way anywhere in Asia can present their VIP cards at any of its 1,700 outlets and get free directions - to the nearest discounted merchandise. Unhappy customers can also return or exchange merchandise.

At the rate it's going, we won't be surprised if Giordano gets deputised as a special United Nations unit. 'Ambassador' Lau sounds grand.