with Neil Gough
Quake, rattle and roll knocks market profit openings about
Bankers' desks across Asia went dark on Tuesday as both Bloomberg and Reuters suffered service outages as a result of the Taiwan quake.
Unlike the public internet, Bloomberg and Reuters normally route communications over private networks that they lease from third-party internet service providers. But after the quake damaged several undersea cables, bankers and traders were left scrambling for alternate sources of the real-time information that moves markets.
'I've missed several chances to make quick gains over the past two days,' said a fund manager who relies on his Bloomberg e-mail account to keep abreast of market rumours and tips.
While uninterrupted in Hong Kong, Reuters service suffered hiccups in Japan, Taiwan and Korea, a Singapore-based technician for the company told us. Reuters responded by temporarily routing traffic over the normal internet and sourcing new bandwith from alternate suppliers. By 4pm yesterday, all service in Asia had returned to normal, with Korea the last to come back online.
Hong Kong users of the Bloomberg Professional service weren't so lucky.
A telecoms veteran said Bloomberg relies on PCCW and Hutchison Global Communications for bandwith, with PCCW generally regarded as the primary provider. But according to this source, Hutch received an 'urgent' request from the Bloomies yesterday morning asking it take over and help re-direct traffic around damaged or congested transmission points.
Despite the corrective efforts, many local brokers said they were still unable to log on yesterday. Bloomberg was actively re-routing local traffic over the normal internet while its private network was gradually coming back online. But the backup service was less than stellar: as of yesterday evening, Lai See's Bloomberg terminal was still listing quotes for many individual Hong Kong stocks as being day-old data (although further scratching around revealed the quotes were in fact up to date). Calls to Bloomberg's automated press hotline were not returned.
bulls get into full stride
While hardly the pride of Pamplona, Lai See seldom shies away from a nice healthy bull run. But we were caught out well behind the curve yesterday, when we wondered whether the Hang Seng Index would break 20,000 in time for the Chinese New Year in February.
Yesterday's close at 20,001.91 goes to show that local punters don't need to wait for the Year of the Pig in order to let it fly.
Not just any old float
They may have dodged a crazy week in the market, but instead they're getting hammered by Mother Nature - which makes it much harder to sell out and run.
International yacht racing has always been a rich boys' sport, so it's no surprise to find a few of Asia's wheelers and dealers at the helm as the famed Sydney-to-Hobart yacht fleet gets hammered by heavy winds and raging seas.
Executives that swap pinstripes for oil skins say keeping their boats afloat and at the front of the fleet is no different than turning a buck in the cut-throat world of Asian finance.
Teamwork and a touch of daring go just as far as a sound business plan or new sails.
One of those is Geoff Hill, a Hong Kong dealmaker for the Australian merchant bank Pitt Capital Partners, who is racing in his tenth Sydney-Hobart. Another is Global Risk Systems' founder Geoff Ross, whose new Chinese-built yacht Yendys (or Sydney spelled backwards) is pounding through the waves towards Tasmania.
Mr Ross is no stranger to striking deals in the mainland, and he took that experience one step further by building his new yacht in Dongguan.
'Bringing in a new yacht to a new group of people to try to win one of the toughest ocean races in the world is no different to starting a business in China,' Mr Ross told The Australian newspaper.
'It's mostly about the team sharing the same values and commitments. Two-thirds of the race is over by the time you get to the starting line.'