Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 October, 2011, 12:00am


Shanghai Tang goes roaming in Central as new home awaits

Hong Kong's, indeed China's, sole luxury retail brand - Shanghai Tang - is making a virtue out of necessity.

It will have to get by for about five months without a flagship store. Shanghai Tang has been at its present location for 17 years but will close the store on October 23. And, until its new flagship store opens in Central in March next year, it is embarking on what it calls 'a new journey as the Nomad of Central'.

In the interim, there will be a pop-up store - Shanghai Tang Loft - on the sixth floor of Pedder Building from October 23 to February 20.

However, it's the Shanghai Tang Mongolian Village that promises to be the more spectacular retail project.

This takes the form of seven Mongolian yurts, or tents, which are being made in Mongolia and will be installed on the roof of Central Pier 4 from November 4 to December 31.

In addition to its normal business, there will be opportunities for cocktail parties and dinners at one of the harbour front's few al-fresco venues.

We gather that negotiations on its current premises did not go smoothly.

'Losing the Pedder Street location was unexpected,' said Raphael le Masne de Chermont, Shanghai Tang's executive chairman at a press conference yesterday.

But the chairman assures us that a new site has been found. It is going to be called the Shanghai Tang Mansion, and will be twice as big as the current store over four floors.

Le Masne de Chermont did not give the new location because he wants to turn the event into an online competition to maintain a bit of a buzz around the company.

However, he says the new store will be within a 350-metre radius of the current shop - but to the east of Pedder Street.

The firm is hoping to use the upheaval as an opportunity to show how the company has evolved.

Le Masne de Chermont says he hopes that people will come to rediscover Shanghai Tang and see that it has moved on from the perception in the 1990s that it was 'an expensive Chinese emporium for gweilos'.

Bad day in court for Soros

Billionaire and hedge-fund pioneer George Soros does not often lose, but yesterday was not one of his better days. Associated Press reports that the European Court of Human Rights ruled that France did not violate Soros' rights when convicting him of insider trading 23 years ago, defeating a years-long effort by the billionaire financier to clear his name.

Although Soros has faced criticism for other investment decisions before and since, the French conviction over trades in 1988 rankled with Soros. He was fined Euro2.2 million in 2002 for buying shares in French bank Societe Generale in 1988, days after being informed about a planned takeover bid for the bank.

That was the amount he was accused of making when he sold the shares shortly after. France's highest court reduced the fine in 2007 to Euro940,000.

Soros argued that France's insider trading rules at the time were unclear, and that the length of the investigation - from 1993 until his indictment in 2000 - made it difficult to call reliable witnesses, violating his right to a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights. The human rights court, based in Strasbourg, France, disagreed.

Ad fails to faze Trichet

So farewell then, Jean-Claude Trichet. You certainly will not be missed. That was the message to the departing head of the European Central Bank delivered in full-page advertisements for European newspapers, the Financial Times, El Pais, Le Figaro and Le Monde.

The advertisements were taken out by Edouard Carmignac, founder and chairman of France's largest independent asset management firm, Carmignac Gestion.

He accused Trichet of deepening the impact of the 2008 crisis by 'underestimating its scale' and, more recently, endangering the euro with 'ill-considered rate hikes and clearly inadequate support for the debt of weakened European countries'.

He urged Trichet at his last ECB meeting to cut the bank's key interest rate to zero and make a declaration of intent to buy unlimited amounts of distressed countries' sovereign debt.

How does that saying go: Hell hath no fury like a French fund manager scorned.

Trichet was unmoved by his pleas. ECB didn't cut rates yesterday, ignoring Carmignac's hints, and Trichet did not suggest that a rate cut was coming, despite economists warning that lower rates were needed to head off another recession.