Company executives help keep the flame alive
PCCW chairman Prince Richard is full of surprises, even when it comes to participation of businesses in the Olympic torch relay.
His company has the most torch bearers for the Hong Kong leg of the relay on Friday.
But he is not running.
Group managing director Alex Arena and managing director of the consumer group Tom Chan Kee-sun will be, while his spin doctor Jenny Fung Ma Kit-han will run on behalf of the Hong Kong Paralympics Committee & Sports Association for the Physically Disabled.
We gathered Messrs Arena and Chan were sponsored by business partner Samsung, which also nominated Hutchison Telecom International executive director Peter Wong King-fai to run.
Other listed-company executives among the 120 torch bearers are: Cheung Kong (Holdings) deputy chairman Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, Sun Hung Kai Properties deputy chairman Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, Henderson Land Development deputy chairman Peter Lee Ka-kit, former Hysan Development managing director Michael Lee Tze-hau and Shun Tak Holdings managing director Pansy Ho Chiu-king.
For non-property runners, there is Bank of China (Hong Kong) chief executive He Guangbei, Goldlion Holdings chairman Tsang Hin-chi and the local office heads of Microsoft, Lenovo and Samsung.
Among these runners, only Mr Kwok is a keen athlete, running the local half-marathon almost every year since the event was launched.
But the run should not be too difficult. The torch bearer is required to run 200 metres with a two-pound torch held high above his head. A runner who tried this out told Lai See that it was a pleasant but tiring jogging exercise.
Your guess is as good as mine as to how many people will be lining the streets to watch the Olympic torch relay this Friday, but Lai See is quite sure that one of them will be an accountant.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting services supplier for the Beijing Olympics, told its 9,000 staff in Hong Kong and the mainland that they could enjoy a long weekend, declaring May 2 a special holiday.
In fact, PwC is not just having a mini-golden week. It said it would also close its offices on August 8 to celebrate the grand opening of the games.
Why aren't more Hong Kong employers as generous?
So, has Olympic fever infected you?
At the Bank of China Tower's Olympic flagship store, one item was almost sold out the day it hit the display shelves - replicas of the Olympic torch, with a price tag of HK$3,190 each.
We gather the shop sold several hundred torches from a limited edition run of 200,000.
Strong demand has prompted the shop to order more from Beijing.
Size isn't everything
Small can be beautiful.
This we were told at a Shanghai Commercial Bank luncheon, where a bank executive became excited talking about a 6 per cent pay rise for all of the lender's 1,500-strong staff in the summer.
That will be in addition to an average six-month bonus distributed before the Lunar New Year.
Without subprime exposure, the smallish Shanghai Commercial Bank last year recorded a profit of HK$2.1 billion, up 32 per cent.
That's why small can be an advantage.
Another director who earned almost the same amount as HSBC chairman Stephen Green is First Pacific managing director and chief executive Manuel Pangilinan.
Last year, he made US$5.99 million, a 55 per cent increase.
Last year was First Pacific's second record year since 1996: the conglomerate's profit tripled to US$510.4 million.
Mr Pangilinan's lieutenants - Edward Tortorici and Robert Nicholson - received pay cheques of US$3.54 million and US$2.79 million respectively, up 9 per cent and 47 per cent from 2006.