Swire Group

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 January, 2007, 12:00am

Renaissance man ricky wong squeezes strauss into extracorporate time

Ricky Wong Wai-kay, the chairman of City Telecom, continues to stake his claim as the renaissance man of Hong Kong industry.

Back in September, we wrote of how Mr Wong had entered the two-year executive MBA programme at Chinese University. Now it emerges that he has been studying piano at the same time.

According to his people, after only four months of tinkling the ivories, he can already play the Blue Danube Waltz perfectly.

Most company chiefs would tell you that running their businesses takes up all their time but Mr Wong made a conscious decision last year to take a step back and delegate some of his powers to a new management team.

He's not so involved in day-to-day matters any more. He has been known to excuse himself from meetings ('Sorry, I have to go and practise piano') before heading downstairs to Metroplaza for a lesson.

His staff admire their boss' conversion to music and books. 'He used to miss university council meetings sometimes but he seldom misses an MBA class,' one said.

Mr Wong now spends Friday evenings and Saturdays in the classroom.

Gambling in hierarchy of needs?

Six years after the big American casino operators began to show an interest in Macau, serious Southeast Asian money has finally begun to pour into the Pearl River playground.

Malaysia's Genting International is the latest to get the casino bug. It and Star Cruises announced yesterday plans for a HK$4.7 billion pleasure palace in partnership with Stanley Ho Hung-sun.

Singapore's CapitaLand and Temasek preceded them two weeks earlier by taking a HK$1.1 billion stake in Macao Studio City. Lai See was intrigued to read a copy of the presentation that CapitaLand made to investors and media at the time of its Macau splash.

The property firm cited Abraham Maslow's famous theory of the hierarchy of needs to explain its business strategy.

Those of you who took Psychology 101 will remember what Maslow said about the five basic human needs and the progression from one to the other - from food to security, to love, to self-esteem and, finally, to self-actualisation.


Are we really talking about gambling here?

Funland truce in the making

Meanwhile, back here at home, where some folks worry about Hong Kong not being titillating enough to compete with Macau, there's talk of a truce between those two blood rivals, Mickey Mouse and Captain Whiskers.

Last Friday, at our Style Awards dinner, we spotted Hong Kong Disneyland chief Bill Ernest (below, left) and Ocean Park honcho Allan Zeman deep in conversation at the head table.

We hear that the theme parks may be about to forget their mutual distrust long enough to organise a joint ticket promotion.

Like most Disney parks around the world, our local version is fond of seeing itself as a kind of city state, sufficient unto itself.

However, last year's disappointing attendance figures may have made it more sympathetic to the idea of co-operating with the competition.

We contacted Mr Zeman, the newly crowned Style Maker of the Year, in Phuket. He mentioned something about 'work in progress' and signed off with his customary: 'You never know.'

Top donors to Operation Santa Claus

Four of the global investment banks were among the top donors to our Operation Santa Claus.

Merrill Lynch ponied up HK$1.5 million, Credit Suisse HK$1.3 million and Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan HK$1 million each.

Of course, Cathay Pacific Airways made everybody look like pikers by donating HK$3 million in the form of China National Aviation shares that Air China was obliged to buy as part of that mind-boggling deal whereby Cathay got control of Dragonair.

To these and all the good folks who have allowed Operation Santa Claus to raise more than HK$100 million in its 19-year history, we express our heartfelt thanks.