Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 September, 2011, 12:00am


A Terrapinn event that is truly different for journalists

Event organiser Terrapinn has endeared itself to journalists covering the Hedge Funds World Asia 2011 conference with an e-mail that would not look out of place coming from North Korea's propaganda unit. Apparently, journalists have had the temerity to approach grown-up hedge fund managers at the conference and asked them questions without first seeking permission.

In her e-mail to reporters, Terrapinn's marketing manager Jolene Lee warns, 'Please note that you are NOT ALLOWED to do so unless you have made prior arrangements with speakers and sponsors. The speakers and sponsors reserve the right to not answer any of your questions. Journalists not complying with these strictures will be thrown out of the conference.'

It gets better. 'Also, as you have all signed the media agreement, for any articles that are to be printed has to be proofed by Terrapinn and you are to seek permission before it goes to print or goes public. Any failure to comply, we will not hesitate to take legal action.'

We see that Jolene is based in Singapore. She's clearly been living there too long. All of this contrasts somewhat with the message on Terrapinn's website which reads, 'We go out of our way to create rich environments for learning, meeting people and having meaningful experiences. Your brain is shaped by your experience. We understand this, which is why Terrapinn events are different.' How very true.

Hostile way out of a problem

We recently wrote about disarray among the directors at Seamless Green China Holdings, a small company that makes watch parts and has an investment in energy efficient lighting on the mainland.

The company came to our attention because its chairman recently announced a hostile takeover of the firm. He is Andrew Lam Ping-Cheung, a lawyer who, in a case that attracted considerable attention, was jailed for six years for perverting the course of justice but had his conviction quashed on appeal after serving six months.

Lam said he fell out with his fellow directors over two deals which in his opinion were dubious. One involved the purchase of an uncompleted factory on the mainland to manufacture mobile phones. Lam said the purchase was first priced at HK$350 million. Two days later, the price fell to HK$250 million, raising his suspicions. The deal required the payment of a HK$50 million deposit seven days after the signing of the sale and purchase agreement.

A recent share placement meant the company could pay the deposit, but Lam was concerned that it was in no position to raise the rest of the money, which means it was likely to default and lose the deposit.

Lam raised his objections to the deal with the board and subsequently discovered, through his own investigations, that the acquisition was held on the parent company's books at a fraction of the price Seamless was prepared to pay. He voiced his concern to the board, which responded by trying to elect two more members to the board.

Lam said he then received a death threat, which he believed was linked to his opposition to the deal. The deal was subsequently aborted.

Lam said he felt the only 'clean way' out of his difficulties with the rest of the board was to take over the company. He has since sent a detailed complaint to the stock exchange about the way the board had handled the deals and over what he said were undisclosed conflicts of interest.

More gloom from Dr Doom

'Dr Doom' Marc Faber has added an ethical dimension to the troubled financial times in which we have been living for the past few years.

Speaking on RTHK's new morning programme, Money for Nothing, Faber said a lot of the problems were caused by the breakdown in morality in the financial sector.

He said banks had a fiduciary function in that when someone deposited money with a bank, they expected to be repaid.

'But what has happened in the past 20 years is that banks have become like hedge funds and therefore traded with your money and speculated with your money and lost it and then the taxpayer, through government intervention, has to bail out the financial system.'

This, he said, pointed to a decline in morality in the financial sector. The cause of this was 'the easy monetary policies that create an environment where speculation is encouraged and saving ... is discouraged because your money on deposit caries a negative real interest rate'.

Needless to say the endgame in all this is more doom and gloom.