Knowing the value of a good investment
It must have been an honour for Hong Kong shareholders and journalists to have Industrial and Commercial Bank of China chairman Jiang Jianqing come to town for the company's post-annual general meeting briefing yesterday, leaving president Yang Kaisheng to run the AGM in Beijing.
Chairman Jiang got a taste of local financial journalism when he was asked during a 40-minute grilling session why ICBC's share price was underperforming.
To be fair, ICBC is still up 31 per cent from its listing price in November last year, but that was not good enough for shareholders who have seen their interest in the No1 mainland bank fall 22 per cent from a peak of HK$5.22. The stock is down 16 per cent so far this year.
'As the bank's management, our job is to maximise shareholder value, not share price,' Mr Jiang said.
Investors are becoming impatient with big-cap stocks in the light of a buying frenzy during which Shenzhen and Shanghai special treatment stocks, similar to Hong Kong penny stocks, skyrocketed.
CCT Tech International, one of only two penny stocks in Hong Kong, for example, had more turnover than HSBC this week.
Mr Jiang said he did not know why cats and dogs had become a hot commodity but believed smart investors would know about value-investing.
'The better the value, the higher the share price,' he added.
Goodbye HSBC, hello ANZ
Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp president and chief executive Michael Smith is leaving HSBC on Friday after 29 years of service to become chief executive of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.
HSBC put out a four-line statement to confirm Mr Smith's departure and said his successor would be appointed in due course.
ANZ was more generous, devoting a six-page press release to welcome the new executive.
Mr Smith himself was quoted as saying: 'I lived and worked in Australia for five years and my wife and I really look forward to coming back. Two of our three children were born in Melbourne.'
Whatever attracted Mr Smith to ANZ, the money would have been hard to resist. He will have a sign-on A$9 million (HK$59.1 million) for the remuneration forgone on top of a A$3 million fixed annual salary, a A$3 million short-term incentive and another A$3 million in long-term incentive.
Even HSBC chairman Stephen Green last year made only #2.93 million (HK$45.15 million).
Uniquely Hong Kong
There are thousands of reasons to love Hong Kong but there are also hundreds of reasons not to. Reader Aureole Foong prefers Lai See to Cathay Pacific when it comes to sharing her love for Hong Kong (although we can't offer her any airline tickets).
'I love Hong Kong because this is the only place in the world where tourists can witness the following things:
1) The sweet smell of money gently wafting across the Guangdong border like a cool summer breeze. Oh, wait; it's the smell of money only if you are a tycoon. For the rest of us poor sods, it's called pollution.
2) Jewellery shops ripping off customers (mostly mainlanders) by using the 'real or fake' trick. This is all illegal, of course.
3) Property developers ripping off home buyers (mostly Hongkongers) by using the 'gross or net' trick. This is all legal of course.
4) A nearly extinct species of old and graying ex-colonialists left over from the pre-handover days who really believe they still own Hong Kong and who think no-one else is worth their spit.
5) A new and vibrant species of current colonialists discovered only after the handover who really do own Hong Kong and who freely spit.
Hong Kong - the city of contrasts!'