Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 June, 2011, 12:00am


The one where Italian style meets dry bulk shipping in the party room

To the stock exchange to share the joy at the listing ceremony for luxury brand Prada. But although the occasion was enlivened by the sounds of Italian being spoken and alluring attire and accessories, it lacked the glitz and the glamour we normally associate with Prada, which had to share the spotlight with the distinctly unglamorous Courage Marine, a Singaporean dry bulk shipping company. At least it didn't clash with Xiangyu Dredging Holdings which had listed a few days earlier. The Courage Marine executives seemed pleased with the press turnout even though they weren't the star attraction.

The party room was filled with two sets of executives and their advisers - like two wedding parties that had become entangled. Prada's gift to the stock exchange went down well - a cute little red bag, framed. And chief executive Patrizio Bertelli handed over a HK$1 million cheque to the Community Chest.

As the Prada executives left the stock exchange they were jeered by demonstrators yelling 'Shame on Prada.' The authorities left nothing to chance and the 17 demonstrators were carefully watched by 12 police officers and a handful of security guards supervised by men in dark suits with a wire in one ear.

The motivation for the protest stemmed from the case of Rina Bovrisse, a former Prada manager in Japan who is suing the firm for unfair dismissal after being told she was too 'ugly' and didn't have the 'Prada look'. Rina was present, demurely decked out in white with a garland of white flowers in her hair, and a very high-heeled pair of silver Miu Miu shoes - the brand created by Prada boss Miuccia Prada in 1993. 'I am standing on Prada,' Rina told Lai See defiantly.

An odd silence from Rob Grool

After nine years at the helm of Wallem Group, managing director Rob Grool is stepping down from the board. Or at least that's what a statement from Wallem says. Grool is not saying anything. Wallem is a ship services provider based in Hong Kong. An oddly phrased announcement of changes at the top of the company starts off with something about the importance of being able to grab the opportunities offered by outsourcing being the goal of all third party service providers such as Wallem. Then it says: 'To position Wallem for the future, the Board of Directors has appointed Simon Doughty to the role of Group Managing Director.' There is no word of thanks to Grool, simply an acknowledgement that 'he safely steered the Group through the recent economic crisis, SARS, the often challenging shipping markets ...' 'No thanks, Rob', appears to be the message.

Wherefore art thou, Sun Art Retail?

You would have thought that with all the fuss over the accounts of companies operating in China, companies going for an IPO would be careful with their corporate information. Sun Art Retail Group says in IPO documents lodged with the stock exchange that it is the largest and fastest-growing hypermarket in China. However when we went to look up, as directed by the literature, we found the site does not exist. We're sure this is just an oversight and that it's a real company with real assets and so on.

Not so hard times for Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs appears to thrive on adversity. Despite the difficult times it has been through recently - at least from a reputational standpoint - it has jumped to the top of the equity capital markets bookrunner rankings for Asia (ex-Japan) and for China for the first half of 2011, according to dealogic. In Asia it moved up from second in 2010, and was followed by Deutsche Bank, UBS, Credit suisse, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Goldman also led the M&A advisory rankings, and maintains its position on top of investment bank revenue rankings. It wasn't so successful in debt capital markets where it jumped one place to 7th. HSBC led the DCM ranking, followed by Deutsche, Citi, UBS and JP Morgan. Goldman also led the bookrunner rankings for China, as well as the M&A advisory ranking. UBS came first in the Investment bank revenue rankings, and was also the leading foreign bank for debt capital markets in China, albeit in 9th place. The first eight positions were held by mainland Chinese banks.