Lai See

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 December, 2006, 12:00am

king prawns and thoroughbreds the key to sound relationships

Philip Lau Sak-hong, the owner of racing legend Fairy King Prawn (right), has an unusual method of cementing relations with his clients.

He names horses after them.

Mr Lau is chairman of Starlight International Holdings, an electronics and toy maker. Two of the nags in his stable are called Best Buy and Wal-Mart after a couple of strong runners in the American retail industry.

'It's not only for fun,' he said. 'Something like this can strengthen our relationships with clients.'

The company reported a 60 per cent jump in first-half profit to HK$82 million. At least a few of its clients must be happy.

When choosing his horses' Chinese names, Mr Lau opts for a more traditional approach by picking ones that are in some way connected to his family.

Fairy King Prawn, for example, got his name because the Lau family loves prawn dishes.

And the Prawn's family is set to grow - Mr Lau is setting aside 'millions of dollars' to buy horses.

a site for old icons

It's not just green commandos who are infuriated by the demolition of the Star Ferry clock tower.

Vanessa Fan, the managing director of property developer Emperor International, has come out swinging against the government's obsession with profits from redevelopment.

As far as she's concerned, profits are something for private enterprise to worry about. 'The government should preserve our cultural heritage. I say that from the bottom of my heart.'

For endangered heritage sites, Ms Fan has a profit-making idea. She says the government should designate an area for the relocation of historical icons. 'This could attract tourists and cater to local residents who want to trace their past.'

Oh, and Emperor Entertainment Group, a music company controlled by her boss Albert Yeung Sau-shing, would be happy to help.

'Emperor has plenty of talent in arts and entertainment. We can help package and promote the area with the icons,' she said.

bank on ma

Frederick Ma Si-hang, our Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, has been getting the hero treatment on local radio.

Yesterday Mr Ma did a guest shot with 'Uncle Six', Chan Wing-luk, the stocks pundit whose show has a big following among housewives and others with time on their hands and cash in their pockets.

'We have surpassed Tokyo in terms of the number of new listings and we now rank No2 behind London. Hong Kong is just a small place, so ranking No2 is very good,' Mr Ma told the audience.

'It's the pride of Hong Kong,' burbled the host who thanked Mr Ma for undertaking a 'secret' mission to the Middle East to find petrodollars for the local market.

Mr Ma confidently proclaimed that the money had gone into China banking stocks.

So now everybody who made a killing on bank stocks this year knows who to thank. Right.

more orange please

Finally, Dennis Lo Hoi-yeung, the chairman of Fairwood Holdings, has revealed the secret behind the fast-food chain's growth magic - fresh tomatoes and olive oil.

Previously, when asked about the company's three-year rebranding exercise, Mr Lo would say only that the sit-down menu was being expanded and the stores redecorated.

But at a recent briefing Mr Lo was more forthcoming about what he thinks has driven the company's profit to HK$75 million in the latest fiscal year, from HK$37.5 million in the previous year and a paltry HK$3.7 million in 2004.

'Playing with fresh tomatoes and olive oil has helped us create a lot of new dishes,' he said.

Mr Lo may have more tricks up his sleeve. Earlier this year he met Japanese designer Yasumichi Morita and Hong Kong-born architect Steve Leung to talk store design.

The stores' current look, he said, was 'not orange enough'.