Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2006, 12:00am


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fans turn up heat for a place at fireside chat with michael dell

Blame it on the fireside chat.

Shortly after the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce invited members to what it called 'a fireside chat' with Michael Dell this Friday, his company caught fire.

The company, which built its rise to being the world's biggest personal computer maker on a direct-sales strategy, yesterday set another landmark by recalling 4.1 million notebook computer batteries, the biggest consumer electronic products withdrawal ever, on worries that they might burst into flames.

So much for the joke. The prospect of meeting Mr Dell, according to the chamber the longest-tenured executive to lead a computer company, met a hot response from people keen to meet a man who stuck his name on every machine he made. We are told 300 members signed up for the afternoon meeting, including Wharf vice-chairman Stephen Ng Tin-hoi.

No doubt Mr Dell's insights will be high-powered enough to win redemption for the battery blow-outs. At least a fireside chat will be cooler than braving the heatwave outside.

'sibling' grabs security blanket

While we're on computer giants, let's not forget IBM. The blue machine has taken intellectual property rights to a rather serious level.

One of Lai See's ethnic Chinese acquaintances who had business with IBM went to its New York headquarters recently - but only after a month's wait for identity and security clearance from the company.

We understand that the new visitor arrangement, which took much longer than the usual US visa applications, were put in place after the mainland's Lenovo Group acquired IBM's personal computer business last year.

Only a few steps separate IBM and Lenovo's offices in New York, but they are in fact miles apart.

home among the monkeys

How much would you pay for a monkey's view of paradise?

We can find out next month when industrialist Chen Hsong holds a public auction for his former residence near Sha Tin Kam Shan Country Park, an area whose local name of Ma Lou Shan reflects the fact it is home to numerous tribes of monkeys.

The property, which covers 18,600 square feet, has a panoramic view of the mountain greenery stretching from Lion Rock to the Sha Tin-Tai Wai area. Mr Chen has had the property up for sale for at least six months with an asking price of at least HK$66.9 million. The monkey lovers with money will be interested.

more to learning than books

What is the most important lesson that one can learn in university? For HSBC taipan Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen, it is self-recognition and human communications.

Sponsoring a bank donation of HK$8 million to 300 scholars in Hong Kong, Mr Cheng, local chairman of the London-based lender, said learning went beyond books and courses.

'If lifelong learning is a project, what do you think is the most complicated procedure?' asked Mr Cheng, who along with the students wore a construction worker's helmet in a rather obscure dramatisation that learning is only part of the lifelong project of existence. 'I think the most difficult and time-consuming procedure may well be to learn how to communicate with others and know about yourself.'

Mr Cheng said he always asks himself how he can improve in his day job.

If he makes it a habit, can't we all?

FARmer reaps empty harvest

In a move to restore investors' confidence after the 20 per cent retreat in share price since June 30, Chaoda Modern Agriculture sought help from the media.

The vegetable producer took several mainland media folk to its farm in Jiangsu province, north of Shanghai, then distributed a report of their findings to the Hong Kong press.

Thanks to this disinterested generosity, we know that Farmers' Daily, a leading newspaper covering China's agriculture industry, is bullish on Chaoda's products, saying they are well-received by the market, and that the company's export business has been growing at a healthy pace.

Unfortunately investors seemed to ignore the good news. Chaoda shares fell 5.1 per cent yesterday to a three-week low.

well-heeled now even better heeled

Someone was quick to cash in on Giordano's recent rally.

HSBC Private Bank, whose parent, HSBC, advised Japan's Fast Retailing in its potential acquisition of Giordano, sold half of its holdings in the Hong Kong clothes seller amid a surge in its share price. The unit is responsible for looking after the savings of well-heeled clients.

In its filing to SFC, HSBC said the unit realised HK$16 million by selling 3.36 million shares at HK$4.77 last Monday, soon after Giordano confirmed it was in talks with the Japanese retailer. It has 3.28 million shares remaining.

Giordano shares, which were at HK$4.07 when they were suspended on August 4, surged about 24 per cent to an intraday high of HK$5 when they resumed trading on August 7. The stock closed yesterday down 0.8 per cent at HK$4.65.