Lai See

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 December, 2006, 12:00am

tsang calls on an old friend to run his election campaign

Lai See hears that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has picked Adolf Hsu Hsung to manage his campaign for re-election next year.

The two were long-time civil service colleagues, going back to the 1970s when Mr Tsang was a go-getter district officer in Sha Tin. They were so close that Mr Tsang asked Mr Hsu to be his son's godfather.

Mr Hsu retired in 2004 after seven years in the employ of Cheng Yu-tung's New World Services, whose directors included Tsang Yam-pui, the chief executive's brother and our former police commissioner.

The chief executive's political godfather holds a Silver Bauhinia star. He's also a voting member of the Jockey Club and a councillor of Lingnan University.

surprise as watson chief retires

Ian Wade has retired as chief of Hutchison Whampoa's retail arm AS Watson after 25 years of service.

The sudden departure caught many people by surprise, as did the summary fashion in which Hutchison supremo Canning Fok Kin-ning announced it. 'By mutual consent Mr Ian Wade, group managing director of AS Watson, has decided to retire with immediate effect,' he wrote in an internal memo.

Some insiders said it was a rather brusque send-off for someone who has devoted a quarter-century to the firm, and it clashed with the 100 words that Mr Fok used to describe his protege and new Watson chief Dominic Lai Kai-ming.

Watson has been going through a bad patch, particularly in Europe where it has spent a large chunk of its reserves acquiring health and beauty retailers in the past two years. There have been problems locally too at Watson Chemist, which is believed to have lost money last year.

Mr Wade was headhunted to take over the Watson business in March 1982, months after Li Ka-shing acquired Hutchison Whampoa.

Whatever the current difficulties Mr Wade can take pride in having presided over a phenomenal expansion. When he joined the firm it had 16 outlets. Today it has 7,692.

He was noted for never taking a day off. Weekends would find him prowling the aisles of his stores, looking for ways to boost sales. It is said that in all his time at the company he took only a half-day of sick leave. And in preference to a briefcase he toted everything around in a Watson's shopping bag.

chow continues with hkex

Over at Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, chief executive Paul Chow Man-yiu has signed on for another stretch.

Looking at what HKEx's stock price has done since the company went public, it's no wonder that the 60-year-old Mr Chow has been given a new contract that runs until April 30, 2009.

HKEx has risen 250 per cent to HK$70 in 18 months. Mr Chow is sitting on profits of more than HK$210 million thanks to his 3.28 million options, some of which could be exercised for as little as HK$8.28.

li ning scores few points

Li Ning, the ambitious mainland sportswear company, always says it aspires to be mentioned in the same breath as Nike and Reebok. However, it's got a long way to go to catch up with those two when it comes to celebrity endorsers.

The firm recently added Houston Rockets forward Chuck Hayes to its National Basketball Association endorsement roster. Now we're sure that Hayes is a dependable journeyman, but a guy who is averaging 5.4 points and 7.2 rebounds in under 30 minutes a game doesn't seem likely to move a lot of trainers.

You could say the same about Damon Jones, a Cleveland Cavaliers guard who averages 9.6 points a game.

Li Ning had the right idea when it signed up the Miami Heat centre Shaquille O'Neal, one of the game's few active legends. As luck would have it, though, O'Neal had knee surgery last month and will be out until January.

merger brings benefits

Thanks to their merger, Dragonair is joining its parent Cathay Pacific in the oneworld alliance. Dragonair's Elite Club will be folded into Cathay's Marco Polo Club next year, and Dragonair's customers will be enrolled in the Asia Miles programme.