Lai See

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 June, 2011, 12:00am


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Shades of Miranda Priestly in Prada's IPO media chief

Prada kicked off its roadshow in Hong Kong on Tuesday, treating analysts and selected journalists to a fashion show before embarking on more tedious matters of profit and loss. But the models were not the only ones strutting their stuff. The formidable Dianna Footitt was on hand to shepherd the press, decked out in Prada gear apart from her Jimmy Choo shoes. This was her first big gig since setting up her own public relations consultancy - Artemis Associates - after leaving Financial Dynamics. This might account for her exasperation with those journalists interviewing Prada president Miuccia Prada who persisted in asking her about the IPO. 'Can't you ask her about fashion design?' Footitt interjected impatiently. The film, The Devil Wears Prada, should have prepared us for this.

Banker-bashing in fashion again

The Economist magazine has been reflecting on the nerve of investment bankers who accept government bailouts with one hand and then continue to pay their high-flyers big bonuses with the other.

Wall Street pays its bankers more these days than it did before the crisis, the magazine says, while British bankers are paying themselves 20 per cent more. None of this would be so bad if when bloated with greed they keeled over and disappeared out of sight. But unfortunately it's not quite that simple. When they go bust they take the rest of the economy down with them. It is for this reason, together with the industry's inability to control its inbuilt rapaciousness, that banker-bashing has become so fashionable.

Some 69 per cent of Economist readers apparently believe that investment bankers are paid too much. It is tempting to think that next time around a few more of those that think of themselves as too big to fail should be allowed to do just that.

More than beginner's luck

Who'd have thought that within two years of opening, Singapore's casinos would be poised to push the Las Vegas strip into second place in what must be one of the most spectacular casino start-ups ever. Singapore's two casinos opened early last year and are already expected to outstrip casino revenues on the Las Vegas strip, which earned US$5.8 billion last year. Singapore earned US$5.1 billion last year but is expected to bring in US$6.4 billion this year. Meanwhile, Macau remains in a league of its own with revenues of US$23.5 billion last year and projected annual growth of 25 to 50 per cent, depending on how many mainlanders are allowed into Macau.

Ferrari as a green symbol

We hear that Simon Powell has changed jobs after some years as head of something called Sustainable Research with CLSA. This involved covering a range of socially responsible investment ideas such as climate change, renewable energy, Asia's water shortage and corporate social responsibility. He's now heading the firm's Asian oil and gas coverage. So does this mean that CLSA is abandoning Sustainable Research? Not so, we are told. This research is now being headed by Charles Yonts. We gather these changes have nothing to do with Powell's penchant for Ferraris, which some people think are the antithesis of sustainability. Others argue that given the Ferrari's refined efficient engine, it is on the cutting edge of sustainability.

Renault beats rivals in executive pay

The French sometimes have a reputation for being close-fisted - 'They're the Scotsmen of Europe,' an (English) acquaintance once told us after, admittedly, his bonus from a Paris bank didn't live up to expectations. But Renault is proving the lie. According to a Bloomberg report, Nissan, Japan's second-largest carmaker, handed its directors average pay that was more than twice that of its rivals Toyota and Honda for the fiscal year to March. Average compensation, including bonuses, for the 14 executives and auditors was 126 million yen (HK$12.2 million). Average pay for nine executives excluding corporate auditors rose 32 per cent to 186.4 million yen.

Toyota paid a total of 1.6 billion yen in salary to 38 directors and corporate auditors, for an average of about 41 million yen per executive, and paid 27 executives bonuses of 340 million yen, about 13 million yen each. Honda paid a total of 781 million yen to its 25 top executives, each with an average compensation of about 31 million yen. Executives got bonuses of 372 million yen, about 15 million yen each.

Relatively modest, compared to the sort of dosh they hand out in the United States.