Cathay Pacific

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2008, 12:00am

Cheung Kong plays it smart with gift of rare water

Sometimes you just have to appreciate how much Li Ka-shing's public relations team cares about reporters.

For a number of years, the PR people from Cheung Kong (Holdings) have been making gifts of products from various group subsidiaries, such as vegetables nourished by the group's brand of fertilisers and vitamins manufactured by another group member. Yesterday Lai See received a bottle of mineral water.

No, it's not distilled water from Watson's, but mineral water from a new subsidiary, Cambridge Water, which manufactures under the Iceni brand in Cambridgeshire, England.

The gift came with a note quoting a Cambridge University vice-chancellor as saying that students of the vaunted institute of learning owed their smarts to the water. 'It must be the water they drink,' he reportedly said.

Cheung Kong, via subsidiary Cheung Kong Infrastructure, bought Cambridge Water in 2004, a year after subsidiary Hutchison Whampoa sold European water company Powwow to Nestle for Euro560 million (HK$6.85 billion).

However, if you'd like a sip, you'll have to pop into a supermarket in Britain. We understand the group has no plan to sell Iceni in Hong Kong in the near future.

Going clubbing

Hong Kong Inc is opening more 'clubs' in Beijing to prepare for the Olympics.

Tomorrow, Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen will officiate at the grand opening of the Beijing Hong Kong Jockey Club in the Wangfujing district of the capital.

And we aren't talking about a betting station here.

Applying contemporary architectural concepts to a traditional courtyard setting dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Jockey Club facilities feature the largest ballroom of any club in the capital, with a capacity for 280 guests.

Also opening this month is Richard Li Tzar-kai's Club 1949 near his Pacific Century Place in Sanlitun, another swank Beijing district.

We gathered Mr Li's senior managers last week hosted a welcome dinner for Louvre Museum director Henri Loyrette, who is presenting an exhibition in the National Palace Museum featuring Napoleon Bonaparte, the one-time French emperor.

BNP Paribas reaches out

Still with the French, guess what BNP Paribas offered its 1,700 local staff to celebrate its 50th anniversary in Hong Kong?

A special house edition of an Octopus card with a HK$50 value.

Surely it would be much nicer to have a bottle of French champagne, but considering the outlook for global banks, the Hong Kong staff was happy to take what was given.

Ferrying the masses

How many people travelled between Hong Kong and Macau by TurboJet last year?

According to Shun Tak Holdings, it was about 35,000 per day.

The Stanley Ho Hung-sun firm yesterday said it carried a record 12.8 million passengers on the route last year, 15 per cent more than in 2006.

On a busy day such as during a Lunar New Year holiday, the ferries made 356 trips. That came out to 15 ferries per hour, or a high-speed ferry sailing every four minutes.

Now you know how lucrative the Shun Tak ferry business really is as it enters its 46th year. That, of course, is before the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is completed, which should cut travel time from Hong Kong to Macau to just 20 minutes.

Magic wages

How much did the son of Swire Pacific's honorary president Adrian Swire make last year?

According to Haeco's annual report, Merlin Swire, a sixth-generation descendant of the Swire Pacific founder, made HK$1.44 million last year, up 79 per cent from the year before.

The eldest son of Sir Adrian has been the chief executive of Haeco Xiamen since May 2006 after joining the Swire group in 1997. His salary was less than 10 per cent that of the highest-paid Swire director. As disclosed yesterday, chairman Christopher Pratt last year made HK$15.4 million, up 31 per cent, while Swire Properties chairman Keith Kerr earned HK$12.64 million, up 7.5 per cent.

Uncle Four goes shopping

Uncle Four Lee Shau-kee has invested in more stocks again - this time in his own flagship.

The Henderson Land Development chairman bought 1.645 million shares at an average of HK$57.58 per share for a total consideration of HK$94.61 million on Tuesday last week. Yesterday the counter closed at almost the same price of HK$57.55.

It was his first acquisition of the shares since buying some at HK$35.50 in June 2005.