Watchdogs bare their teeth at would-be listing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 August, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 August, 1994, 12:00am

UTTER, total disaster.

The Lai See Holdings share offer is to be cancelled, pulled and stopped.

Of course, we can't say much at this stage. But it seems that our row with the US distributor of the Lai See product has prompted a series of anonymous letters to various regulatory types and the chairman of the sponsoring merchant bank, so there were some difficult questions to be answered over the weekend.

We tried to explain that most of the stuff in the letters was pure nonsense - the inventions of a sad, deluded person trying to make trouble.

''Most of it?'' spluttered the chairman of the sponsors. ''If just one per cent of this stuff is true, there is no way in the world a serious market can allow your shares to be listed. The damage to our own reputation will be enormous.'' What was the problem? we wondered. Could it have been the complicated market support system worked out for our shares in the early weeks after flotation? We thought not, as it was the lads and lasses from the merchant bank who showed us how to do it and set up all the accounts.

Could it be, we wondered, that the regulators didn't like the idea of our bolt-on one-for-10 warrants? Okay, it is unusual to wait for three weeks before setting a conversion price, but we think our offer gave investors a real bargain, so setting the price for the average of the first 21 trading days seemed fine.

It was, after all, done by Bondie when he floated here and everyone made out like bandits from it.

And it isn't so unusual to give huge share options and bonus payments to directors, even though profits are falling. If we aren't rewarded properly, then we will go and find other jobs and our company will be in real trouble.

And raising objections over petty little matters like the scale of commissions we pay in property deals is simply disheartening. People have to be motivated, you know.

We are completely sickened by the whole process. It is yet another case of nit-picking regulatory authorities holding back decent Hong Kong entrepreneurs from making a legitimate profit by skimming a lot of minority shareholders who probably aren't important anyway.

We do not intend to take this situation lying down. If the regulators and the market of Hong Kong can't accept our totally legitimate practices, we won't stay. We will go to a market where entrepreneurial flair and derring-do are still granted a measure of acceptance.

Lai See Mining Resources will shortly apply for a listing on the Vancouver exchange. And we don't expect to get the same kind of Big Brotheresque treatment there.

Continental drift THERE seems to be a certain amount of dissatisfaction Down Under at the moment.

Why, even the International Public Affairs Branch of Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs wants the place shifted. ''Repositioning Australia'' reads the headline on an article in Insight, the department's glossy newsletter.

Is it in the way of something important? For that matter, where it is now? The article also talks about the need to extend Australia's ''export culture''. And we thought Australians always drank lager.

Candid camera A CHAIN of electronics stores in the United States has just launched an innovative set of advertisements.

A comedian with a hidden camera was sent into several of the chain's stores with bizarre requests to test staff reactions - the firm's boast being that it had the most helpful staff around.

That the adverts will soon be appearing on US television screens demonstrates that the makers didn't face the same problems they would have encountered in Hong Kong.

The shop assistants were asked to undertake bizarre requests like deliver a TV set into a gorilla's cage (gorilla decidedly at home), repair a video recorder full of waffles, advise a shopper on loud speakers which would ''penetrate concrete'' and annoy noisy neighbours, and process a credit application for a heavily pregnant woman on her way to hospital to have a baby.

The assistants didn't miss a beat, apparently.

What would happen in Hong Kong, we wondered? No problem about getting the credit application processed, we thought. But since when have local shop assistants cared enough about customers to notice their physical condition? And we actually tried out the extra-loud loudspeaker test. It is a miracle we made it back to the office. The first shop assistant dragged all the really big expensive stereos out of the back of the shop to try them out. That's what you get for asking a 19-year-old grunge addict advice on hi-fi systems.

Altered images PHILIP Yates of Telstra has detected a previously unsuspected character trait in Hong Kong's cabbies.

Venal, aggressive, non-existent during rain and typhoons - all these cabbie traits are well-known.

But Mr Yates has noticed something else ever since taxi drivers were required to display their driver identity cards: their vanity.

''It has become obvious there are no government instructions issued on how recent the image should be and the drivers have taken this lack of guidance to enhance their narcissistic perception of their visage,'' he pointed out.

Sitting in the back of one cab in particular drove the point home to Mr Yates.

The chap in the driver's seat was a rather sloppy looking gentleman who Mr Yates estimated to be well into his 60s ''judging by hair colour, demeanour and erratic driving style''.

But, Mr Yates said, the picture was of a handsome young stud of perhaps 30, sporting luxuriant black hair, a suit and a tie.

''The image in the rear view mirror was rather different,'' said Mr Yates.

There may be another explanation besides vanity. Many drivers don't like passengers to know their names. It leads to all kinds of nasty things, such as making it possible to identify the driver for complaint purposes.

That probably explains why a cab Lai See was in recently had a picture of a fierce-looking tiger sticking its tongue out in the slot where the driver's card should have been.