Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 September, 2006, 12:00am

how hard it is to find an independent director just like caesar's wife

Listed companies are always complaining about how hard it is to find independent directors. Each publicly traded company in Hong Kong is required to have at least three.

Of course, directors are expected to be clean as a whistle. Under normal circumstances, we suppose, most companies would want to shy away from appointing anyone who had even worked at a company that had been tainted by scandal, even if the individual himself had not been at fault.

Apparently these are not normal times. Take the case of Interchina Holdings, a tiny listed developer which announced this week the appointment as independent non-executive director of Terence Tang Tin-sek, a 47-year-old accountant with 25 years of corporate finance experience.

About a third of the announcement is given over to describing the legal misadventures of two firms where Mr Tang formerly worked, though in neither case was he found to have done anything wrong.

From 1989 to 1991, he was group accounting manager of Allied Group, whose owner Lee Ming Tee was later jailed for a year for falsifying accounts. In 2000, Mr Tang joined Sinochem, formerly known as Wah Tak Fung, which was reprimanded in 2001 for a breach of exchange rules.

In case you wondered, Mr Tang will earn a director's fee of HK$200,000 per year and serve on Interchina's audit committee.

regulator in elite line-up

The Chinese University of Hong Kong has made China Banking Regulatory Commission chairman Liu Mingkang (right) an honorary professor in its Faculty of Business Administration. He joins an elite honorary lineup that includes the former China Securities Regulatory Commission chairman Liu Hongru, National People's Congress vice-chairman Cheng Siwei and Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief Joseph Yam Chi-kwong. All are expected to share their insights with the Chinese U's business students.

We understand that the man who successfully wooed Mr Liu was the university's vice-chancellor Lawrence Lau Juen-yee, an econometrician by trade who used to teach some bright mainland students, including Zhou Xiaochuan, now governor of the central bank, and Guo Shuqing, current chairman of China Construction Bank.

Mr Liu is already teed up to give a lecture, in English, on the subject of Banking in China on September 25.

deep pool of financial talent

Hong Kong has always been presumed to have a deep pool of talent when it comes to financial services but thanks to research carried out by the Corporation of London, as the City of London's municipal government is known, we have a much better idea of how deep.

For instance, we have 3,000 chartered financial analysts, the fourth-largest concentration in the world. The number of certified public accountants based here has grown to more than 25,000 from 11,500 in 1995.

We also have 5,000 solicitors, 1,000 barristers and 290 actuaries.

tarnishing our reputation

Unfortunately, the same survey ranks us third worst in Asia when it comes to pollution, behind only China and the Philippines.

Aware that our reputation for bad air may already be eroding our position in financial services, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce will host a forum, 'Climate Change and Hong Kong: What Can We Do?' on September 20, October 31 and November 29. Among the speakers are Bruce Hicks, former managing director of Sunday Communications who's now in the waste management business in China.

Bush and company in central

Don't be surprised if you meet some important politicians in Central this lunch hour.

Online travel website Zuji is staging a special tickets promotion at the Entertainment Building, using people disguised as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Prince Charles and even Queen Elizabeth II.

Zuji tells us that white collar workers like to book tickets during their lunch hours and that 18 per cent do it on Tuesday as opposed to 8 per cent on Sunday.