with Howard Winn
All guests at Conrad are VIPs, but please wait for another lift
The scene is the lift lobby at the Conrad Hotel, which, being lunchtime, is busy. A lift arrives and the waiting crowd surges towards the lift. Suddenly a Conrad employee steps in front of the lift with arms outstretched and announces, 'I am sorry this lift is reserved for VIPs.' This does not go down well. 'So who do you think we are d**kheads,' growls one smartly dressed Australian businessman, before moving off to find another lift. Soon afterwards the lift returns and a new crowd surges forward expectantly. Again our man from the Conrad leaps into action: 'I am sorry, this lift is reserved for another guest.'
Good to see learning on the job in action.
Apac welcomes Kalahari bid
The bid by China's state-owned energy group CGNPC Uranium Resources for London-listed Kalahari Minerals has created some excitement in the offices of Apac Resources, which is listed in Hong Kong. This is because Apac owns a 14.8 per cent stake in Kalahari Minerals which owns gold, copper and other base metal interests.
Kalahari's main appeal for investors is its 40 per cent interest in Extract Resources whose main asset is the Husab Uranium project in Namibia. The project contains the Rossing South deposit with a resource of 367 million pounds of uranium, making it the world's sixth-largest known primary uranium deposit.
Apac's main business is trading in base metals and commodities, and trading and investment in listed securities with a portfolio of investments in natural resources.
The Chinese company has offered 290 pence per share valuing Kalahari at ?56 million (HK$9.52 billion).
Apac's net asset value at the end of February was HK$1.05, though the stock is trading at a steep discount at 49.5 HK cents.
Apac's chief executive Andrew Ferguson told Lai See he welcomed the bid as 'it gives us a handsome return in under a year'.
Wine auction broadcast live
The rich will have another opportunity to play that new game that has recently become popular in town: 'Who's prepared to pay the most outlandish price for a bottle of wine?' The annual Asta del Barolo auction is the best known international auction of Italy's Barolo wine and is organised by the Accademia del Barolo.
The auction takes place at Castle of Barolo Wine Museum in Piedmont, Italy on Sunday at 8.30pm Hong Kong time. But it is being broadcast live to Hong Kong and Singapore, giving the auction the added frisson of capturing the rivalry between Hong Kong and Singapore.
The auction will be beamed into the H one restaurant at IFC and Singapore's Garibaldi Italian Restaurant, and diners will be able to bid for the wine. H one is putting on a show for the event with an eight-course dinner designed by executive chef Luca Signoretti in collaboration with visiting chef Andrea Mugavero from Roberto's Ristorante in Dubai - all for a modest HK$988 per head plus 10 per cent.
At least 34 winemakers from the Barolo region will offer 35 lots of varying vintages spanning 33 years from 1974 to 2007.
Proceeds from the auction will go to the Don Bosco Hotel School of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where it will be used to purchase teaching materials and equipment.
A similar event was held in 2008 when a total of HK$820,890 was raised with HK$195,205 coming from Hong Kong, HK$331,590 from Beijing and HK$294,095 from Italy. We understand that some of the bottles have those red and gold labels that have helped propel prices for Chateau Lafite through the roof at previous Hong Kong wine auctions as the colours are considered to be lucky by some buyers.
Lady warrior wins again
Good to see that Jing Ulrich's star remains in the ascendant as she has for the second consecutive year been chosen as 'Business Mulan' of the year by China Entrepreneur Magazine. The award is in its second year and was launched to recognise China's most influential female executives.
Ulrich, JP Morgan's managing director and chairman of China equities and commodities, was ranked as one of Fortune Magazine's '50 Most Powerful Global Businesswomen: in 2009 and 2010. She ranked 81st in Forbes magazine's 2010 list of the '100 Most Powerful Women in the World' and was cited as one of the 20 youngest global power women.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term 'Mulan' this relates to a mythic figure Fa Mulan who impersonates a man and performs a string of heroic deeds fighting in the Chinese emperor's army against the invading Huns, culminating in saving the life of the emperor. So Jing Ulrich, you are indeed a warrior.