Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 May, 2011, 12:00am

Lights go out an hour earlier to show that AIA 'loves the earth'

We reported yesterday that an elderly shareholder had chided AIA at its AGM on Thursday about the neon sign on top of its North Point headquarters. He claimed the sign was lit up from dusk till dawn and asked that it be turned off at 11pm 'to show we love the earth.'

Patricia Chua, AIA vice-president and head of communications, points out in an email the sign was only switched on from 6-12 pm but goes on to say: 'However, in response to a shareholder's concern about the environment and energy saving, we have decided to switch off the sign at 11pm. We appreciate our shareholders' interests and the concern for the community we operate in.' Nice one. It's only an hour a day but they all count.

The Bold and the Beautiful

The thought of turning 60 is for many a fin de si?cle moment. But Marshall Byres erstwhile doyen of Hong Kong's tax pundits, approached it with panache throwing an impressive party at the Peak Lookout for his family and chums themed as 'The Bold and the Beautiful.' So what were his thoughts on turning 60? 'It's the beginning of middle age,' he says.

Byres will be known to many here during the 80s and 90s who may recall his refined Aberdonian tones on RTHK as he applied his expertise in taxation to the budgets of successive financial secretaries, John Bremridge, Piers Jacobs, Hamish Macleod, and our own Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

This expertise was gained during his time with Her Majesty's Inland Revenue Service in Scotland before he appeared in Hong Kong in 1982 to work for Ernst & Young, subsequently rising to chief operating officer. He now acts as an adviser in Hong Kong to a wealthy Swiss family. He is held in special regard at the Hong Kong Football Club for saving them a considerable amount of money after sending a 40-page memo to the Inland Revenue arguing why the club should not be taxed.

Glasenberg a wizard in Oz

One of the advantages of being a private company is that you can keep your head below the parapet and more or less stay out of public view. So the listing of Glencore International has triggered a rude awakening for CEO Ivan Glasenberg. Hardly a day goes by that we don't read some snippet about him, his new wealth, background, friends and so on.

One place we didn't expect to see his name pop out was on the annual BRW Rich 200, a list produced by BRW magazine of Australia's top 200 richest people. He appeared in second place behind Gina Rinehart, credited with a fortune of A$8.8 billion (HK$72.5 billion).

So how come Glasenberg features on this list? Most people had never heard of him until a few months ago and he'd always been a described in the press as a South African who had lived in Switzerland for 25 years. He apparently acquired Australian citizenship during a two-year posting to Sydney some time ago. But we doubt his links with Australia extend to paying its notoriously high income tax.

In your Dreamliners, JAL

Japan Airlines has taken the bold step of announcing a new service between Tokyo and Boston which it says will use the long-delayed Dreamliner. The aircraft is three years behind schedule and has been delayed seven times. About two dozen aircraft have been completed but none of these US$185 million babies have been delivered or received official authorisation due to problems with the electronics and software.

Boeing is saying that it will make its first delivery to All Nippon Airways late this summer. JAL says it is launching its new route in April next year and presumably hopes to have its new planes before then. Let's hope their plans are based on more than just a dream, a wing and a prayer.

Microsoft still on the Ballmer

Microsoft's nine-member board - including chairman and co-founder Bill Gates - supports Steve Ballmer, Reuters has reported, quoting a source, although Microsoft itself declined comment.

Influential hedge fund manager David Einhorn this week called for Ballmer's dismissal, saying he was a brake on the former technology No1's development. Ballmer is the second largest shareholder in the tech company co-founded in 1975 by Gates, the largest shareholder, with 6.6 per cent.

Fund managers said Gates was standing by Ballmer, despite signs Microsoft had lost its edge in recent years. 'Bill Gates is a ruthless capitalist. If he wanted to, he'd walk Ballmer to the door himself,' said a fund manager at one of Microsoft's largest shareholders.