Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 October, 2010, 12:00am

A mine means what I choose it to mean ... more or less

The Hong Kong stock market's mining sector is expanding at a rapid clip. That is, if you accept the findings of its chief marketing officer Lawrence Fok. In an April presentation to a mining conference he said there were 109 companies listed with a market capitalisation of US$123 billion.

However at the Mining Journal's recent Mining Investment Insight 2010 conference, this figure had grown significantly to 151 companies with a market capitalisation of US$135 billion.

By his own admission, the list is compiled by including any company that has anything resembling a mining asset among its businesses. So a company that trades stocks as its main business, with a small holding in a mine, is regarded as a mining company. This enables him to say that these companies form 'an important industry cluster in Hong Kong', though most analysts would not include a cement company in the resources sector.

The figures are obvious nonsense and nobody familiar with the market in Hong Kong takes them seriously. There are roughly 50-60 companies that can be called metals and mining companies. Everybody knows that Hong Kong has a small but growing mining sector, but to keep trotting out this nonsense at mining conferences just makes the exchange look silly.

Oligarchs fight it out

Oleg Deripaska has spent much of this week in London lobbying institutional shareholders for support in his battle to regain parity on the board of Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest producer of nickel and palladium. Deripaska alleged foul play at the company's AGM earlier in the year when Rusal lost the parity it previously shared with the other 25 per cent shareholder Interros, controlled by another oligarch Vladimir Potanin. Deripaska is hoping to gain redress on Thursday at an emergency EGM he has called. He appears to have achieved some success and has attracted backing from two independent consultancies, ISS and Glass, Lewis that advise shareholders on how to vote.

Down to business for royals

Good to see that despite Hong Kong's change of circumstances since 1997, Britain's royals have not been deterred from the occasional visit. These visits are no more the circus of old with military parades and stirring music, flags and dutiful cheering crowds. They are more to do with mundane business matters.

This is why Prince Andrew will be making a low-key, three-day visit to Hong Kong and Shenzhen in his role as Britain's special representative for international trade and investment. He will meet Sir C. K. Chow, chief executive of the MTR Corporation, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, HSBC, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, and of course Li Ka-shing. In between, he will be lunching at the British Chamber of Commerce with its director, Brigadier Christopher Hammerbeck, and investing Christine Loh with her OBE.

Petrolhead get-together

To Republik next Tuesday for a swanky bash to mark the first time China has hosted the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup endurance race. Tuesday's knees-up will include race organisers, sponsors, racing drivers, business leaders and anyone else that can get in. While the preliminary schmoozing takes place in Hong Kong the actual race itself is in Zhuhai on November 7 and follows two days of practise and qualifying. The 1,000 kilometre race is based on the famous Le Mans endurance race, but has since been globalised and further commercialised in the form of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. The Zhuhai event follows earlier legs of the tour at Silverstone in Britain and in Atlanta. For those that can stand the noise, the race is expected to last around six hours.

Poker Dreams

Macau will be enlivened next month with the Asian Poker Tour at the City of Dreams, which is promising a nine-day festival of poker. The event starts on November with participants required to pay a buy-in of HK$35,000. Last year's winner was a Frenchman, Adrien Allain, who won HK$3 million out of a total prize pool of HK$10 million. This year's big attraction, say organisers, is Phi Ivey, who they describe as 'arguably the world's number one professional' who has earned eight World Series of Poker bracelets and has amassed live tournament winnings estimated at US$13.5 million. They don't say how much he has lost.