Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 November, 2010, 12:00am

Loan market meeting comes alive with underwear quiz You wouldn't normally expect much in the way of drama at a seminar organised by the Asia Pacific Loan Market Association.

There were various presentations on the subject of the outlook for the market next year. After each presentation the audience was asked, for example, how much the Hong Kong market would do and invited to vote using gizmos that enable them to vote with the answers immediately being flashed up on the screen. As the seminar was winding down the audience was awakened from its semi-slumber by association chairman John Corrin, when he suddenly declared: 'I have been sitting on these panels for years and taken all sorts of s * * t from one member of this panel', referring to HSBC syndicated loans boss Phil Lipton. He then asked the now wide-awake audience to vote on the colour of Lipton's underpants. The choices were red, white, blue, tartan or none.

The voting was 56 per cent in favour of no underpants while 20 per cent favoured tartan presumably as Lipton is believed to be Scottish. This is what too much syndicated lending does to you. The perfect Christmas tree Stockbrokers CLSA have marked the approach of Christmas in a novel way with a guide to finding the perfect Christmas tree. In a compelling analysis, two analysts have narrowed the choice down to nine types of tree and selected the best options for the US, Europe and Asia as well as advice on fake trees.

The CLSA Christmas tree team reports a resurgence in the tradition of taking the family out to cut down a tree for the holidays as families seek to renew old traditions. A few variables to bear in mind: the more sap a tree has the more fragrant the smell; different types of tree vary in their ability to retain needles; longer needles tend to last longer. For the US, the Concolor is favoured for its excellent needle retention; long needles which work well with LED lights giving a deep warm glow. Its strong branches are good for hanging decorations.

The Scotch Pine also gets an honourable mention. In Europe, the Nordmann Fir is recommended for its full shape and warm, rich colour. There are two ways to go with fakes: realistic fakes or unrealistic, that is, silver, gold or white. They are usually made of PVC and steel. But beware of really cheap fakes which can sometimes have a high lead content. Those looking for live trees in Hong Kong are recommended to look at

We look forward to a report on Easter eggs. No ordinary app at US$599.99 Those of you with money to burn and a BlackBerry should check out Fortunatus in the BlackBerry App World. Fortunatus is no ordinary application - it costs US$599.99 and is both grotesquely ingenious and absurd. When it starts up you see a picture of a beautiful diamond.

'You can show this diamond to your friends to show you are rich,' the blurb says temptingly. There is more. 'It is also possible to chat with your fellow wealthy colleagues whom (sic) also bought the program. The chat function shows real-time how many wealthy people are using the chat function at that moment.' The site warns that all you get is the screenshot. Still, at US$599.99 it's cheaper than a Porsche.

Ma gets stranger by the day What to make of Fred Ma Si-hang, the chairman of China Strategic Holdings? He was holding forth to a group of manufacturers about the benefits of operating in China. Afterwards, espying our colleague he asked her: 'Have you changed your job?' When she replied she hadn't, he boomed for all to hear: 'Well if you do, remember God will always be with you.' He gets stranger by the day.