Where did all that financial talent go?
We hear there are long faces among members at the Hong Kong Golf Club over the performance of its investments last year. The club's investments lost HK$8.5 million and, for this privilege, it paid out HK$438,000 in fund management and custodian fees. This compares with a gain of HK$11.5 million in 2009 and fees of HK$23,000. The loss still leaves the club with a sizeable investment portfolio of HK$118 million. As a result of the disappointing performance, the portfolio has been transferred from the care of BNP Paribas to JP Morgan (Asia). Seems strange that, given the financial acumen available within the club's very exclusive membership, its investments should be left to the tender mercies of the fund management industry.
Sexual harassment hurts
UBS Financial Services has found itself at the painful end of a sexual harassment case in the US. Bloomberg reports that the Swiss firm has been ordered to shell out an eye-watering US$10.6 million to a sales assistant, 51, after a Kansas City jury ruled she was sexually harassed by a senior colleague and then fired for complaining about his conduct. Carla Ingraham claimed UBS and her supervisor sexually discriminated against her, subjected her to a hostile work environment and sexual harassment and retaliated against her for complaining.
The man is said to have made inappropriate comments repeatedly about Ingraham's anatomy. He would also call her into his office to show her offensive e-mails on his office computer and was in the habit of bragging about aspects of his own anatomy. He will doubtless be feeling somewhat diminished at Ingraham's award of US$350,000 for sexual harassment, US$242,000 for retaliation and US$10 million in punitive damages.
Only in England
The British government is trying to move one of the spring bank holidays to the autumn to reduce disruption caused by having so many breaks clustered together. Although the idea of shifting the May 1 holiday has widespread support, opposition comes from an unexpected source. 'May Day marks the time when frosts have diminished and bedding and tender plants can start to be planted outside,' the Horticultural Trades Association complained. 'The long weekend presents an important 'gardening window' that allows the gardening public to implement key spring garden tasks at the time when they need to be done.' The government is thinking of calling the new holiday UK Day, and moving it to October to create a nationalistic celebration like St Andrew's Day in Scotland - gardeners permitting.
Freshly minted name
Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neil started the ball rolling back in 2001 when he coined the term BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) for the big, rapidly growing emerging economies. Ever since then, strategists and economists have been grappling to come up with their own clever acronyms in the hope they will catch on and become part of the everyday language. There have been many attempts but none have made the grade.
The latest attempt comes from Fidelity with MINT standing for Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. Fidelity apparently believes this group is a level below the BRICS. As to whether they're right - we'll just have to suck it and see.
Apple stakes its claim
If you thought intellectual property was boring, think again. Take Apple, for example. Bloomberg reports that it is seeking to register 'startup' as a trademark. In its patent application, Apple claims it has used the mark since October 21. Tthe Patent Office trademark database shows there are no other pending applications or registered trademarks using the word 'startup' by itself. 'Startup.com' is a trademark registered for use of providing online interactive information to entrepreneurs. That mark is owned by a Massachusetts resident.
Apple is also embroiled in a trademark dispute with Microsoft over attempts to register 'app store'.