Bank of China

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2015, 12:02pm

investors beware, media coverage cuts both ways for bank of china

Media coverage, they say, is like a knife - it can be useful but also harmful. Take this one - for the first time as far as Lai See can determine, media coverage has been cited as an investment risk factor.

The just-issued prospectus of Hong Kong's largest initial public offering, for the Bank of China, carried this caveat: 'The PRC banking industry continues to be covered extensively and critically by various media, including with respect to incidents of fraud and issues relating to loan quality, capital adequacy, solvency and internal controls and management.

'Negative coverage, whether or not accurate and whether or not applicable to us, may have a material adverse effect on our reputation and, consequently, may undermine depositor and investor confidence.'

How unfortunate! Mainland banks have, indeed, been sensitive to scandals ahead of initial offerings - for good reason. Zhang Enzhao, the former chairman of BOC's rival, China Construction Bank, was removed seven months before the bank's float in the wake of a corruption scandal.

Even BOC's Hong Kong subsidiary had to postpone its offer and cancel its planned New York listing after a loan scandal.

And not so long ago, two former BOC managers were charged with 15 counts of money laundering over 13 years. As a result, the bank has promised to tighten internal controls.

Only the most clueless will fail to see that negative media coverage and scandals are two sides of the same coin. As a bank, BOC should know that.

and baby makes victor li smile

A new baby, particularly a bouncing boy, makes a lot of difference to Victor Li Tzar-kuoi.

The usually poker-faced Cheung Kong (Holdings) managing director was seen smiling and gamely fielding queries from reporters at the annual general meeting of Cheung Kong Infrastructure.

His favourite topic of the day seemed to be his two-week-old son. Asked about having more babies, Mr Li said he needed a break - for now. He added that he had thought of a first name for his son but had yet to come up with a Chinese name.

'So much for personal matters, let's get back to the business,' said the happy father of four.

easy come, easy go

It may sound charitable but property agents are known to give up part of their commissions just to close a deal. By the same token, shouldn't a broker refund part of his commission to clients to entice them to buy a stock?

That's just what happened with Citigroup, the sole bookrunner for Sun Hung Kai Properties' $7.92 billion placement. The US financial giant agreed to pay the difference between the underwritten price of $89 per share and the market clearing price of $88.30 - practically giving away $62.3 million or about 70 per cent of its total commission of $88 million.

Still, the $25.7 million net fee is higher than the $19.7 million commission earned by Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and JP Morgan from CNOOC's recent $13.78 billion placement.

With banking fees going as low as 0.1 per cent, who says that investment banking - even in boom times - is an easy business?

get a life - with housework

If you're depressed, you're not alone - two-thirds of about 30 professional women from Zonta Club of Victoria are in the same boat.

Thanks to a hectic working life and the special burdens borne by working mothers, at least 2 per cent of Hong Kong's workers have gone through depression, with women outnumbering men by two to one.

Many claimed that shopping therapy may help but psychiatrist Felice Lieh Mak, chairman of the Medical Council of Hong Kong, has suggested that exercise, such as housework, is most effective.

Now, if only they would take this advice, depression would be a thing of the past among working men.