Carson Yeung

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 December, 2009, 12:00am

Yeung's timing impeccable, as club hits winning streak

A month ago, we reported that Carson Yeung Ka-sing was a bit miffed about the lack of recognition he was receiving back home for becoming the first Chinese to own an English Premier League football club.

The only organisation to congratulate him on his HK$925 million takeover of Birmingham City in the summer was Sing Pao, the newspaper he bailed out last year with a HK$60 million loan that gave him the option of acquiring a 62 per cent stake in the group.

Now Yeung (below) is having the last laugh.

Birmingham City beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 on Tuesday to climb into sixth spot in the league, with 27 points from 17 matches.

It was Birmingham's fifth victory in a row - the club's most successful winning streak since 1973 - and although the Blues still trail leaders Chelsea and Manchester United, pundits are now predicting they could challenge for a place in the top five, which guarantees a place in the lucrative European tournaments, by the end of the season.

We tried to contact Yeung to offer our congratulations but could not get through. We wonder if he was busy fielding calls from other well-wishers.

Strangely enough, despite the onfield success, shares of Yeung's Grandtop International Holdings fell 3.8 per cent yesterday to 38 HK cents.

Their eye on the ball

Another local Chinese with aspirations of owning an overseas sports team is Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference national committee member and Hong Kong Football Association director Albert Hung Chao-hong.

Hung (below) has emerged as one of the members of a Chinese group buying a 15 per cent stake in the National Basketball Association's Cleveland Cavaliers team in the United States. Cavaliers vice-chairman David Katzman confirmed this week that the all-cash deal was expected to be completed in six weeks.

New World Development director Adrian Cheng Chi-kin is also a member of the Chinese consortium, which is headed by mainland-born businessman Kenneth Huang Jianhua, who told Lai See in the summer that the Cavaliers investment was a 'done deal'.

We tried to reach Huang yesterday to ask if there were any problems. It turns out he was watching the Cavaliers in New York with Hung at the time, so we guess not.

Contrarian surprises

Surprise, surprise! Oil did not fall below US$20 this year and gold did not drop below US$300.

Those were two of the '10 possible surprises for 2009' that researchers at UBS came up with at the end of last year in their annual series of predictions 'that go against base thinking'.

However, two of the surprises did come true, namely fresh lows for the US dollar and strong rebounds for 'fallen angel' stocks.

This time around, the brokerage's 10 surprises for next year include: Japan becomes the darling equity market, China sharply revalues the yuan, British elections result in a hung parliament, and oil prices rally to more than US$100.

Just as we were trying to get to grips with the Swiss bank's make-believe predictions, up comes Morgan Stanley with its own fairy tale for next year - 'The Goldilocks scenario'.

The US brokerage 'sees a temporary window of high growth and low inflation' in the first half, which it describes as a 'transitional Goldilocks' that can push the Hang Seng Index to 25,716 points.

However, it cautions that any early signs of strong recoveries in developed economies could 'derail the Goldilocks scenario quickly'.

No surprise there, then.

Bringing monks to market

If you are looking for a stock to punch above its weight, then the Shaolin Temple could fit the bill.

The famous Henan monastery, recognised as the birthplace of kung fu, is reported to be teaming up with China Travel (Hong Kong) for a share offering some time in 2011.

To cash in on the temple's huge popularity, China Travel set up a tourism-related joint venture with the government of nearby Dengfeng city. It was capitalised at 100 million yuan (HK$113.56 million) and had 150 million yuan in sales last year.

However, the listing plan could run into some opposition from the Shaolin monks and temple followers who are not exactly happy about putting their religion to commercial use. Could make for some interesting negotiations.