Lai See

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 February, 2007, 12:00am

virgin offers a little advice for the year of the pig

What a surprise to open a missive from a member of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, apparently destined to enter the Macau casino business, and find the following advice:

'Don't be greedy!'

The warning is contained in a Chinese-style almanac where airline Virgin Atlantic lists dos and don'ts for the Year of the Pig.

According to sources, Virgin Group plans to partner with Australia's Tabcorp Holdings, the world's sixth-largest casino developer, to build and operate a US$3 billion casino resort in the Pearl River playground.

But lest anyone get the impression that Virgin's morals are at odds with its business sense, in addition to the injunction against greed the almanac contains another piece of sage advice: 'Don't be a miser!'

Lai See has pondered the significance of these two messages and arrived at the following interpretation - don't be too mean when betting, but know enough to walk away from the gaming table once you've made a killing.

Our almanac came accompanied by red packets festooned with practical wishes. (They were empty, of course, so the ICAC can relax.)

Unlike most red packets with their broad and generic wishes, Virgin's reveal a certain empathy with the actual content of dreams - 'Pay rises without working harder', 'Flourishing love life', 'Get rid of bad people' and 'Win Mark Six'.

keeping the snake

Speaking of the Lunar New Year, it's a time not just for almanacs and red packets but for food too.

No one knows this better than Henry Wu King-cheong, former legislator and honorary permanent president of the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society, who will host his 25th annual snake soup banquet for journalists at the Ocean Park this weekend - a cold weather dish for what are forecast to be a cold couple of days.

In recent years Mr Wu has increased the variety of dishes on offer to include chicken and fish, because 'many young people don't actually like snake', he said.

But he insists on retaining at least one snake dish out of respect for the banquet tradition begun 40 years ago by his father, Woo Hon-fai. Nicknamed the King of Gold, Mr Woo worked as a reporter on the mainland during the second world war before he came to Hong Kong and made his fortune as a gold trader.

first one in the airport

Lai See has heard many people say they would never buy shares in the company they work for, knowing just what a flimsy house of cards it all is.

David Pang Ding-jung, outgoing chief executive of the Airport Authority, is not such a man. He was asked yesterday if he had any regrets about leaving before achieving the government's dream of privatising the airport for a listing on the stock exchange.

'You learn in life that fishing is more enjoyable than the fish,' said Mr Pang (right). 'When the fish will come is less important, as I know the fish will come. And when it lists, I will be the first one to buy Hong Kong International Airport.'

The former Greater China chairman of Dupont said he had accomplished his goal of unlocking the airport's potential, despite having not a whit of airport experience when he took the post six years ago.

His successor, former Dragonair chief executive Stanley Hui Hon-chung, starts work today.

ubs goes green

For UBS, every one degree rise in temperature means not just more sweat on the way to the office and more air-conditioning. It means a lot more investment opportunities.

Reading one of the investment bank's press releases yesterday, we almost thought we had strayed into a report by a green group. Terms such as greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuels and climate change mitigation popped up repeatedly, causing us to almost forget that this was a discussion about money.

But the bank did give some hints on investment strategy. It advises investing in renewable bonds issued by governments and companies to finance clean energy projects and in venture capital and private equity firms focused on environmental technology.



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