We don't really wish to gloat, but . . .

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 January, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 January, 1994, 12:00am

A CALL comes through from our friends at AsiaSat, the nice people who own the satellite which STAR TV broadcasts through.

''Hello, we want to tell you a story,'' said our source, who we could name.

''That's what we're here for,'' we replied.

''It's about the fact that we have just got an export licence for our new satellite, AsiaSat2,'' said our source (who we might expose).

''Oh,'' we said.

''Well, the US still has a high-technology embargo against China,'' said the source. ''But we got a licence anyway.'' You can imagine how excited we were by this stage.

''But APT, our competitor, is still waiting to get their export licence. We are all jumping up and down with joy,'' our source said, with a chortle.

''Do you want to do a Lai See on it?'' Yes, we do. We love it when companies ring us up and try to get us to do knocking copy about their competitors.

If anyone at APT has any juicy stories about AsiaSat executives, that company's finances, or any other dirt they want to share with us, then Lai See is waiting for your call. Your team gets a free kick.

Annoinkment IVERS Riley had his first brush with the mind-boggling difference with which Hong Kong coshes new arrivals.

Mr Riley was bemused to discover that on his first day as chief of the futures exchange, his underlings had roasted a suckling pig in his honour.

''This is my first pig,'' he was heard to mutter.

Not met many of the brokers he'll working with, yet? Slack market FOREX trading is a stressful job - one wrong decision can cost millions.

We've heard of dealers losing it completely and freezing in mid-deal, unable to continue.

Some banks even have stress-management councillors to help spot-desk traders cope. And some traders pay masseurs to visit the dealing room to loosen knotted necks and shoulders.

But at the Shenzhen swap centre, after giving the problem some thought they have come up with the answer: only trade one hour a day.

We know, because we went to have a look during a visit to the city.

After penetrating the tight security, all we found was a room, empty apart from a few computers and a bloke leaning on a broom enjoying a Double Happiness.

Where was the frantic trade, the sweat, adrenalin, blood and tears? Where was the frenzy, the screaming, shouting, buying and selling? ''All the business was finished by 10 am, so they all went home,'' came the reply.

All that stress has yet to come, it seems.

When it does, watch out. This story is apocryphal, but Inner-Mongolia had only two central bankers. They were in charge of the region's central monetary reserve and were meant to husband it carefully.

There wasn't much chance of a run on the Tughrik, but the people at the bank at Ulan Bator discovered the global forex market. They started staying up late with their phones and PCs.

Next thing you know, they had done the lot. Goodbye reserves, hello penury.

Milk sheik A RESTAURANT in Tehran has been forced to close by authorities for impersonating hamburger chain McDonald's.

Not because of the trademark rip-off, but because serving US-style burgers could corrupt the Islamic purity of Iran.

The restaurant, called Ravaq, used a big ''M'' very much like the real McDonald's. Its slogans were similar, too.

A banner draped over the restaurant last week said it was being kept closed for ''failing to conform to Islamic standards and propagating the depraved culture of the West''.

Of course, this kind of copycat stuff is very common. Indeed, there are fake Lai See columns springing up all over the world.

They look very similar at first sight, but when you get them home you realise they are made of shoddy inferior print.

Only a real Lai See looks and tastes like a real Lai See should. Eat a few imitations and you'll soon feel sick.

Glas not RUSSIA ranks as the most difficult place in which to set up and run a business, according to a survey of British directors carried out by Gallup for security consultants Control Risks Group.

Fifty-five per cent of participants rated Russia a difficult country; 47 per cent said the same of Africa; and 46 per cent named South America.

High-risk countries singled out by participants include Angola, South Africa, Zaire, Colombia, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, Turkey and Israel's West Bank and Gaza Strip.

''Asked to rate the threats their businesses face in the UK, the survey shows they think terrorism, organised crime, commercial and financial fraud and industrial espionage are the greatest threats,'' it said.

With regard to doing business abroad, 37 per cent rated war as the top risk, with 35 per cent citing terrorism, 32 per cent commercial and financial fraud and 30 per cent organised crime.