Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2007, 12:00am

Raising a glass to China Life, and cheers to Tsingtao

You know it is just a matter of time for them to get there. For China Life Insurance, it took less than four years for its share price to increase tenfold on its listing price. It took Tsingtao Brewery 14 years.

Thanks to a very strong interim result, China Life yesterday shot up as much as 10 per cent to HK$38.90 before closing at HK$37.15 compared with its listing price of HK$3.63 in December 2003. Tsingtao Brewery shares saw the biggest surge in eight years and jumped as much as 27 per cent to HK$29. The brewer closed 13.79 per cent higher at HK$26 compared with its humble listing price of HK$2.80 in July 1993.

The buoyant A-share market definitely helped China Life to produce a better than expected investment return. Its A-share listing also boosted the popularity of the company among consumers.

'Mainland investors didn't know us in the past but now they know a lot after our listing,' said chairman Yang Chao. 'Like Tsingtao Brewery [which] has more people buying beer after its A-share listing.'

The same must be true for China Life which made its debut on the Shanghai stock market on January 9 this year. Since then the A-share stock has almost tripled while the Hong Kong stock has gained nearly 40 per cent in the year to date.

Anyone care for a Tsingtao beer to celebrate?

May the best man win

Quote of the day, from Las Vegas Sands Corp chairman Sheldon Adelson who attracted nearly 1,300 reporters for his grand opening of Venetian Macao yesterday.

An Australian reporter asked if Mr Adelson could give advice to Australian tycoon James Packer, who partnered Melco International Development chairman Lawrence Ho Yau-lung in building Macau casinos.

'The advice I have to give to my competitors is: Good luck!' Mr Adelson said. 'I didn't really mean it ... but that is what that means.'

Mixing business with pleasure

Sometimes you don't win just by luck. You win because you have a good partner.

Consider China Resources Holdings chairman Song Lin (below), whose bridge team clinched a celebrity tournament on Monday, edging a team played by long-time partner legislator Martin Lee Chu-ming with AIG senior vice-chairman Edmund Tse Sze-wing.

The red-chip boss had his mobile phone ringing all night. During the tournament, he went down briefly for a coffee appointment and asked his assistant to take his place twice in the first three sets. In his game, he forgot a basic Blackwood convention and missed a cold small slam. Everyone at his table laughed, including himself.

Luckily he is smart enough to pick the right partners. His partner that night was Geely Automobile Holdings chief executive Gui Shengyue who is also deputy chairman of the Shenzhen bridge club. His other teammates included cartoonist Tsai Chih-chung and top go player Nie Weiping, once a bridge partner of paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.

So, there's a lesson for us: get a good partner - it works not just for a short game but also for a life-long marriage and for most businesses.

Cards close to their chests

Once a regulator, always a regulator.

Securities and Futures Commission chief executive Martin Wheatley, partnered at the bridge tournament with fellow director Brian Ho Yin-tung on the old-fashioned Acol system, was seen playing a long 40-minute session against former Pacific Century Insurance chairman Francis Yuen Tin-fan and former PCCW director Hubert Ng Ching-wah, keeping others wondering what was going on inside their minds.

We asked if the SFC pair spotted anything interesting about their opponents but they declined to go into specifics. They did, however, remember doubling their opponents for penalties twice for top scores.

Winners all round

Four companies in Hong Kong won all four top awards for what is known as the Oscars for corporate annual reports.

Lee Shau-kee's Henderson Investment won a sliver Galaxy award, completing parent Henderson Land Development's win of the Mercury, Astrid and ARC awards.

The other three winners were China Telecom, CLP Holdings and New World Group (New World Development and its subsidiary NWS Holdings).