Bank of China

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 October, 2009, 12:00am


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Market flat for bank's commemorative notes

Perhaps we put too much store on the word 'anniversary'.

We are not talking about China's 60th birthday party, but the money we spent on another anniversary.

It looks like many of the one million Standard Chartered commemorative HK$150 banknotes could end up as inventory after a weaker than expected response. There were no long queues yesterday and no mainlanders seen lining up for the collectors' items.

Just like the Bank of China (Hong Kong) Olympics notes last year, Standard Chartered's do not have much resale value in the secondary market.

It took us less than two minutes to buy a HK$150 note - selling at HK$288 - at the bank's Taikoo Shing branch where we saw more staff than customers at lunchtime.

Similarly, it also took us less than two minutes to buy a Hong Kong Jockey Club 125th anniversary sweepstake ticket on their first day of sale at a Wan Chai betting centre.

We are not so concerned about the sale of 2.5 million tickets, because they only cost HK$20 each for a top prize of HK$12.5 million worth of gold.

However, buying paper with numbers on is becoming a very risky business these days - just ask the people who subscribed to the past five initial public offerings.

Sticklers for detail

If nobody turns up for work at Citi on Monday, the bank will only have itself to blame.

Absenteeism was up all over Hong Kong yesterday as people sought to extend the National Day holiday into a four-day weekend taking in the Mid-Autumn Festival today and tomorrow. But according to the Citi 2009 calendar we received at the end of last year, Monday is also a public holiday in 'China, Hong Kong SAR and Portugal'.

Tied to the bank

There was a wonderful example of 'the ties that bind' yesterday when Singapore millionaire Oei Hong Leong came to an undisclosed but 'happy' settlement with Citigroup after suing the American bank over investment losses he incurred.

Oei said it had all been amicable and that he would continue to be a client of the bank, adding: 'Recently they gave me a very nice tie. It's a Citibank tie, very beautiful in blue and pink with the little umbrellas on it and you know, I always wear that tie.'

Gives a whole new meaning to the word tycoon.

Claims of spread cover-up

With 20-20 hindsight, we have to admit, there seemed to be something fishy (or perhaps cheesy) about the Vegemite name-change story.

Allegations have emerged that some crafty people at Kraft may have chosen the name iSnack 2.0 in a deliberate attempt to draw media attention to the iconic Australian brand.

It was supposed to have been picked after a nationwide competition that drew 48,000 suggestions for a new blend of Vegemite with cream cheese.

But the name aroused so much indignation and ridicule in Australia that it was withdrawn 24 hours later and now people are being asked to choose from a selection of other names, such as Cheesybite, Creamymate, Vegemate and Vegemild.

However, numerous people have claimed it was all a publicity stunt - something Kraft denies - with one blog even saying the iSnack 2.0 trade name was actually registered here in Hong Kong on July 30, when the competition did not close until August 14.

We do not know who to believe, but we are reminded that nine years ago some media folk in town came up with the strange idea of calling their English-language daily newspaper the iMail.

Gross domestic product

Struggling with your GDP figures? No problem, just take a leaf out of Hungary's book and include those from prostitution and the illegal drug trade.

They have been putting the 'gross' into gross domestic product for the past 14 years, according to a statistician who says it has 'significantly' boosted the nation's output figures, with the two activities currently accounting for 1 per cent of GDP.

The contribution from prostitution has more than doubled in the past five years, while drug trafficking climbed steeply at the start of the decade but has since stabilised to about the same level as the world's oldest profession.

They'll be factoring in illegal music downloads next for the unholy trinity of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.