Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 September, 2008, 12:00am

Everything must go for banker blown out of job

Yesterday afternoon's miracle stock market rebound from an intraday low may have provided punters with some short-lived excitement, but it did little to change the plight of beleaguered bankers from Wall Street to Central.

Our 'ad of the day' award went to one Hong Kong banker who lost his job and put everything but himself up for sale on the internet following yesterday's market close.

Here's his pitch: 'I am done with work for a while, and done with working. I have over 20 suits, 15 pairs of expensive shoes, many many ties, cuff-links, business shirts, four briefcases and more. I am keeping my watches, but the rest I am selling cheap. I am leaving HK in one month, so if you want to buy my stuff drop me a line. I am selling it pretty cheap, so let's do a quick deal. My size is 5 foot 11, medium build, but legs shorter than average (half Western, half Chinese). I will be back in Hong Kong, maybe, once this whole financial crisis blows over. In the meantime I will be in Phuket, relaxing, swimming, drinking and chilling...'

Here is the link in case any aspiring bankers want to pick up the uniform on the cheap: http://www. HK&section_id =1&category_id=26

We would also extend a runner-up award to the advert that followed our jobless banker's posting - from a self-described boy trying to sell his virginity for US$1 million.

Who needs a bailout from the Fed when Hongkongers arrive at such inventive (or desperate) measures to shore up their personal capital base?

Next miracle day

Talking about leading indicators, mark your diary for a lucky day on October 19, 2009 (or 19-10-09).

On August 17, 2007 (or 17-08-07), the Hang Seng Index rebounded more than 1,000 points in the afternoon trading session, closing just 285 points down at 20,672.

Fast-forward by adding one to the day, month and year and you arrive at yesterday: September 18, 2008. On 18-09-08, the benchmark index rebounded more than 1,500 points in afternoon trading to close down only four points at 17,632.

Now does this give you something to look forward to on next year's 'miracle day'?

BEA sees more red

One tycoon who probably wasn't smiling yesterday - despite the miracle market rebound - was banker David Li Kwok-po.

Shares of Mr Li's flagship Bank of East Asia missed the afternoon rally as the company requested a suspension of trading because of the disclosure of a newly discovered HK$109 million loss for the first half of the year from 'unauthorised manipulation of the valuation of certain equity derivatives held by the bank'.

The surprise trading loss was salt in the wound for BEA, which has already written down more than HK$1.5 billion in subprime-related exposure for the first half of the year, including from collateralised debt obligations and some special investment vehicles.

Mr Li had previously admitted having a minor exposure to the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae ordeal.

With the turmoil still working its way through the markets, what comes next at BEA is anybody's guess.

Chips down for casino king

'Rough year for Sin City's richest man,' writes Forbes magazine in its annual list of America's 400 richest billionaires. The man in question, of course, is Las Vegas Sands Corp chairman and controlling shareholder Sheldon Adelson.

Last year, the magazine ranked Mr Adelson, who these days tallies most of his profits in Macau patacas, as the third-richest man in America (behind Warren Buffett and Bill Gates) with a fortune of US$28 billion.

But the end of Wall Street's love affair with Macau, where Mr Adelson's company is spending more than US$12 billion developing casino resorts, saw his ranking slip to No15 as his net worth plummeted to a measly US$15 billion after the list was published yesterday.

'Given how unsettled the stock market is, some of those on our list will become significantly richer or poorer within weeks - even days - of publication,' Forbes noted.

They can say that again. The value of Mr Adelson's 64 per cent stake in his company has fallen another US$3.6 billion or 33 per cent since the magazine priced the shares on August 29.

With the way the markets look to be heading, Mr Adelson may find better odds in one of his casinos.