Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 August, 2011, 12:00am


Not a PC approach to road hogs

People are getting fed up with 'bosses' cars' clogging the city's streets, particularly in Central. The drivers sit there with the engine running while the boss has lunch or waiting for madam to finish her shopping. The mayor of Vilnius in Lithuania, Arturas Zuokas, has come up with a novel approach to this problem: he drives an armoured personnel carrier over them. This crushes the vehicles.

In addition to serving as a useful deterrent to errant drivers, if adopted in Hong Kong it would at last find a use for the police force's armoured personnel carriers - which weigh over four tonnes and should be able to do the job nicely.

Here is a link to a video showing Zuokas' approach in action: - though you may have to first click on the words 'Welcome to Linda Ikeji's Blog' and scroll down.

Reacting to a squeeze of Citron

Harbin Electric is the latest Chinese firm listed in the US to be pinged by short-sellers. This time it's not Muddy Waters that is pointing the finger, but Citron Research. The stock fell 19 per cent this week after Citron issued a report alleging that Harbin 'is materially misrepresenting its revenue to the investing public and thereby committing fraud on the marketplace'. Although it went down, the stock has refused to stay down. It bounced back 4.3 per cent to US$17.68 after the company issued a robust response to Citron's claims.

'In our view, this report, like the preceding ones, is a patchwork of fabricated evidence, falsehoods, selective use of information, and clearly biased and dishonest reporting, showing that the authors' only intention is to drive our stock price down,' Harbin said in a statement. Citron had previously attacked the company when in June Harbin announced that that its chairman, Tianfu Yan, would buy the company for US$24 a share, a deal that Citron claims will not go ahead and was arranged in order to push up the share price. Citron's boss, Andrew Left, says the stock is worth less than US$5.

It's a big deal, by gum

We've seen record prices paid at auctions in Hong Kong for wine and antiques. Now the rare-stamp crowd is getting in on the party. Zurich Asia, a leading stamp auction house in Asia, is holding its largest-ever sale of stamps in Hong Kong. Over 3,000 rare Chinese and Asian stamps worth more than HK$25 million will be on sale. between August 13 and 15 at The Excelsior in Causeway Bay.

'This landmark auction was specially curated to assemble outstanding consignments with exceptional quality and provenance that can best reflect the taste and passion of Asia's collectors, Louis Mangin, director of Zurich Asia, smoothly assures us. The rhetoric soars when discussing the complete sheet of 8 fen 'Golden Monkey'. This, we are told '... ranks among the highest echelons of philatelic gems that are much desired by discerning collectors'. There is another sheet of golden monkey stamps with 'full original gum', and collectors '... will also be delighted to find in the sale an unused 1949 Flying Geese bluish green Dah Tung printed stamp without value ...'. An event not to be missed, clearly.

Caught with his pants down

Playboy has for years been linked with what some people call 'improper behaviour'. However, founder Hugh Hefner's son-in-law, William Marovitz, the husband of Christie Hefner - a former CEO of Playboy Inc - has been involved in improper behaviour of a different kind. He recently paid US$168,352 to settle charges of improper trading in Playboy shares. Marovitz, a former Illinois state senator, made US$100,952 from insider dealing according to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). 'Despite instructions from his wife that he should not trade in shares of Playboy and a warning from the general counsel about buying or selling [the] stock, Marovitz bought and sold shares of Playboy in his own brokerage accounts between 2004 and 20009,' the SEC said.

We get your point, Jon

Jon Corzine, the Democratic former governor of New Jersey and Goldman Sachs chief who now runs MF Global, recently announced a curious bond deal. The firm is raising US$300 million via the sale of five-year bonds at standard interest rates. But there's a curious twist to this issue. Bondholders will get an extra percentage point in interest should US President Barack Obama hire him for a government job - presumably to run the Treasury. It's been portrayed as compensation to the bondholders should Corzine leave the company, but it smells more like a job application.