Clooney shines in the face of tricky questions

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 September, 2011, 12:00am


It was the question on every woman's mind as George Clooney entertained the forum audience.

No, it wasn't about his glittering Hollywood career.

And no, it didn't concern his efforts to promote peace and human rights in Africa.

The burning issue was much more important than all that - 'What is your hotel room number?'

Very cheeky but worth a try. After all it's not every day that a girl finds herself in the same room as the debonair, Oscar-winning bachelor.

It was all part of an entertaining question and answer session at the 18th CLSA Investors' Forum lunch at the Grand Hyatt in Wan Chai.

But journalists were left asking O Brother, Where Art Thou? as organisers enforced a ban on the media at the event. The heartthrob turned social activist made a Coen brothers' film of this name back in 2000.

Clooney spoke to more than 1,100 global institutional investors, but he was off limits to the press. It even proved difficult to speak to those who had attended the lunch, as hotel staff made it clear media were not even allowed in the lobby, let alone anywhere near the Grand Ballroom where the lunch was taking place.

It seemed extreme considering that all those the South China MorningPost talked to afterwards spoke only in glowing terms of the event.

Described by a variety of people afterwards as 'charming', 'humorous', 'knowledgable' and 'diplomatic', the 50-year-old actor obviously lived up to his star billing.

'He was very engaging with the crowd and got his points across when it came to his humanitarian work in the Sudan without being condescending or preachy,' a female financial analyst said. 'It was impossible not to warm to him.'

Even what could have been touchy subjects were apparently dealt with deftly and without him skipping a beat. Zhang Neo, who works in private equity, was impressed that Clooney did not criticise Chinese companies for making big profits in countries like Sudan.

'So long as it works for both parties and it is mutually beneficial he seemed to be fine with it,' he said. 'But he was also very honest and said that what he had achieved in the Sudan was very little so far.'

This week's CLSA Investors' Forum will be attended by more than 1,500 institutional investors from 30 countries.