Central, Hong Kong

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2011, 12:00am

Jardine Matheson market moves show there little change at the top

Jardine Matheson continues its long tradition of paying top market prices with an aggressive strike last week to increase its holdings in insurance company Jardine Lloyd Thompson by 10 per cent to 40.35 per cent.

It offered to pay 765 pence (HK$92.22) a share, a 23.6 per cent premium to its closing price on the day the share purchase was announced.

Jardine Matheson is already the insurance company's biggest shareholder but said it was acting to dispel recent takeover speculation.

Jardine Matheson founded Jardine Insurance Brokers in the early 1970s before floating it on the London Stock Exchange in 1991. It was merged with Lloyd Thompson in 1997. The move to increase its stake is being seen in some quarters as an indication of the determination of Jardine's 72 year-old chairman Henry Keswick.

Some 20 years ago, so the story goes, Keswick was lunching with journalists in the Mandarin Grill, which is, of course, in the company's flagship Jardines hotel. After the meal Keswick beckoned the waiter and asked to see the cigars.

'I'm very sorry, Mr Keswick, there is a no-cigar policy in the Grill,' the waiter replied with some trepidation.

'Not anymore,' retorted Keswick and proceeded to light up. Those were the days.

Zeman's tips for success

Allan Zeman, the sage of Lan Kwai Fong, has been sharing his so-called business secrets with the good people of the American Chamber of Commerce on the island of Phuket in Thailand, where he has numerous business interests.

He made his first million, according to the Phuket News, by the time he was 19 while working in sales for a lingerie company for two years. He then started his own company importing clothing.

He moved to Hong Kong in 1975 to get away from high corporate taxes in Canada and subsequently sold the company - Colby - to trading firm Li & Fung in 2000 by which time it had operations in 40 countries.

Zeman is now involved with nightclubs and restaurants through Lan Kwai Fong Holdings which is about to expand into the mainland, starting in Chengdu. He is doing movies through his Los Angeles-based production company Sweetpea entertainment and fashion through the Algo Group.

As for tips on how to succeed, it seems hard to believe he made it following the anodyne advice he gave the Amcham meeting. 'Understand the local culture; find out what your customer wants. Be first class even if you are working at the economy end of the business; There are never bad staff only bad leaders; China is the future - fakes are for foreigners, Chinese want the real thing.'

We feel there may have been more to it than that.

Take note of Daiwa report

Daiwa's new report on energy comes with an interesting design, The cover features the report's author, Dave Dai, Daiwa's regional head of clean energy and utilities research, at full stretch in a tai chi position. After some reflection, the connection between this and the report's subject matter became clear: energy.

It seems others at Daiwa shared our doubts, because it came accompanied with a note. 'First, please don't be misled by the person doing tai chi on the cover page; this is NOT what the report is about.' It then went on to explain the subject and why we should read it.

Surely the point of a front cover is that it enlightens rather than mystifies about the content. Hopefully, Daiwa's clients read the note before they bin the report.

No wining about the price

Sip Sunset Grill is a trendy new entrant to the restaurant scene on Bali and boasts as its piece de resistance - according to the Guinness Book of Records - the most valuable bottle of white wine in the world.

Connoisseur and collector Christian Vanneque bought the bottle of Chateau d'Yquem 1811 from the Antique Wine Society for GBP75,000 (HK$904,089) in July. It is now installed in a bullet-proof, temperature-controlled case.

The one thing the wine is not protected from is an almost inevitable decline in value amid the economic climate. Using the Liv-ex Fine wine 100 index, we see that it is up 2.5 per cent year to date, though is down 4 per cent month on month.

Fortunately the wine will keep for a century or more according to Alexis Lichine's Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits which states 'the fruity overtones will gradually fade and integrate with more complex secondary and tertiary flavours'. But since this bottle will probably never be opened, its hard to know how true this is.