Audit deflates rumours of China's property bubble
Remember last year when the world was shocked by a survey supposedly from the State Grid Corporation of China which said that 65 million apartments were empty, fuelling concerns of a property bubble? Well, stockbroker CLSA has investigated these claims and says that the figure is bogus. After talking to 20 developers in 54 cities across China CLSA believes there are approximately 16 million empty apartments. The original figure was supposedly based on an internal government study that monitored electricity meters. Evidence for these figures is apparently scanty, but it has been seized on by the media and the investment community around the world, with hedge fund managers talking knowingly of a looming China bust. To paraphrase Mark Twain, this view may turn out to have been greatly exaggerated.
A wealth of grandchildren
We hear that congratulations are in order for Henderson Land supremo Lee Shau Kee, who has just taken delivery of his sixth grandchild. The latest addition comes courtesy of his second son, Martin, who already has two daughters. We understand that some 1,500 staff in the Henderson group of companies are to share the joy of the occasion in the form of a HK$10,000 lai see bonus each at the end of the month. Lee senior has been generous with lai see on the occasion of the birth of his previous grandchildren. He gave out lai see last year when his unmarried eldest son, Peter, presented him with three grandsons all at once after using the services of a surrogacy agency.
Prada's ugly spat continues
Prada's cut-price IPO on Friday is attracting attention not only from investors, but also from a disaffected employee who is suing Prada on grounds of sexual discrimination, harassment and unfair dismissal at Prada Japan. Rina Bovrisse is suing Prada, alleging she was unfairly fired after being told she was 'ugly' and did not have 'the Prada look'. Prada has launched a countersuit claiming defamation.
Her case is being supported by the Asian Transnational Corporations Monitoring Network which is an alliance of Trade Unions and labour NGOs in Asia, together with the Association for the Advancement of Feminism. These organisations are demanding among other things that Prada explains aspects of its labour practices, and is also demanding that the stock exchange insists that companies listing on the exchange provide an audit report on their compliance with laws regarding labour protection and sex discrimination. These two groups are organising a protest outside Prada's store in Tsim Sha Tsui tomorrow followed by a press conference. There will also be a protest at the stock exchange on Friday followed by another outside Prada's store in Central.
Real winners in virtual golf
Congratulations to the team from headhunters Talent2 who have been swinging with some success every week for the past two months. Their success has been with golf clubs and has won them the 'War on Wyndham Street' trophy which has been fought out at City Links Golf Lounge in Wyndham Street, using golf simulation software. The winners - comprising Caleb Baker and Matt Bristow with substitutes Neil Robertson, George Vincent and Brian Pemberton - finished top of the overall standings with 49 points. The Henley Group was second on 44.5 points, with HSBC in third place on 40 points.
The corporate golf league, sponsored by Aegis, fielded eight teams playing seven of the world's most famous courses: Kapalua Plantation, Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, The Belfry, Valderrama, the 'home of golf' St Andrews and Torrey Pines. Talent2 won a HK$20,000 cheque which was donated to a charity of their choice - in this case Room to Read, which focuses on literacy and gender equality among children in the developing world. The team also won a golf weekend for two in Bangkok from Golfasian.com.
Myth-making the Greek way
It's nice to see that the Greeks are keeping a grip on reality. The southern European state with the big credit card bill has to pass tough austerity measures in return for another Euro12 billion (HK$133.4 billion) in emergency loans. But you'd never guess that Greece was the mendicant from the protestors outside the Parliament in Athens or from some newspapers. Reuters quoted one Greek newspaper as saying that the EU had treated Greece poorly.
Blaming 'the stupidity of Europeans', the Eleftherotypia newspaper wrote in an editorial: 'Today it's at risk of becoming Europe's little whore. If the euro's 17 members do not understand that to save their economy they must become one federation, the euro will collapse and with it half of its economies.'
The culture that gave us some of our most enduring mythology is now busy creating a new myth - Greece as economic victim.