Bank of China
Bank of China is one of the big four state-owned commercial banks of the People's Republic of China – the other three are Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China. Bank of China was founded in 1912 to replace the Government Bank of Imperial China, and is the oldest bank in China. From its establishment until 1942, it issued banknotes on behalf of the Government of the Republic of China along with the "Big Four" banks of the period: the Central Bank of China, Farmers Bank of China and Bank of Communications. Although it initially functioned as the Chinese central bank, in 1928 the Central Bank of China replaced it in that role. Subsequently, BOC became a purely commercial bank.
HSBC comes out on top in battle of the brands
HSBC, according to Brand Finance 500, has knocked Bank of America off its perch to become the most valuable banking brand in the world. It is the only British bank among the top 10 banks, with Wells Fargo in second place, followed by Bank of America in third spot and Spanish bank Santander in fourth position. China Construction Bank is in 10th position. Other Chinese banks such as Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China made it into the top 20. There are now more banks from the so-called BRICS economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in the top 20 than there are from Europe.
The value of the brands is assessed using something called the 'royalty relief approach', which is based on the assumption that if a company did not own any trademarks it would need to license them from a trademark owner. Ownership therefore 'relieves' the company of paying a licence fee (the royalty) for the use of the third party trademarks. So maybe HSBC's CEO Stuart Gulliver is worth the proposed GBP13 million payout for 2011.
Gina's pile just gets bigger
Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart continues her pursuit of stratospheric wealth and for the second year running tops the Forbes' 2012 Australia Rich List. This year her wealth is put at US$18 billion, twice as much lolly as last year after South Korean steel company Posco recently paid US$10 billion for a 15 per cent stake in her Roy Hill iron ore mine in Western Australia. Ivan Glasenburg, chief executive of Glencore, made his debut at second place following his firm's stock market flotation, with US$7.2 billion. Another miner, Andrew Forrest of Fortescue Metals Group, was third. Clive Palmer who dropped out of the top 40 last year has reappeared at number 29 despite failing to list his mining group Resourcehouse on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Forbes says Rinehart is on the path to becoming the world's richest woman. That title is now held by Christy Walton with US$24.5 billion. However, Rinehart recently invested US$161.6 million to acquire a 12 per cent stake in Fairfax, the publishers of newspapers such as The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review. None of them are doing so well. Rinehart would not be the first mogul to have stepped into the newspaper business, only to regret it later.
Keeping track of bodies
A television programme focusing on the London Underground has raised eyebrows with the revelation that suicides are such a problem that it has to store bodies on site. According to The Daily Telegraph, about 50 people a year kill themselves on the London Underground, or about one every week. As a result, bodies are often moved to a secure room within the station until an undertaker can remove them, the daily said.
'Sometimes there's a delay, it might be half an hour, maybe even two hours and then we're left with a body on the platform and, disturbingly for us, we have to find a place to put a body,' a member of the Tube's emergency response unit told Channel 4's Confessions from the Underground television show. 'Unfortunately, we had to use, at Stratford, a bin store outside in the car park, you know the big, massive, industrial bins. Putting someone's body in there, not in the bin, in with the bins, it's not really respectful.'
We'd be interested to hear the MTR Corp's policy in this regard.
Censorship a SICK joke
We've already mentioned BRICS once in this column, using the acronym created by Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill. Another bright spark came up with the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) referring to Eurozone countries with the most acute debt problems. So what do you call the four countries mentioned in the Facebook IPO prospectus where access has been wholly or partly restricted? They are China, Iran, Korea (North Korea), and Syria. The SICK countries, of course.
And he believes in tooth fairies
In a comment that does not seem to entirely square with the widely held perception of investment banking culture, Commerzbank chairman Brian Blessing recently told a London court that most of his bankers did not 'work for money' during the financial crisis, choosing to stay out of 'loyalty' to the institution. Blessing, Dow Jones reports, was speaking as a witness in a UK trial brought by former staff of the German bank's Dresdner Kleinwort unit over unpaid bonuses. The group of 104 investment bankers accuse their former employer of 'moving the goal posts' over bonus payments and are claiming amounts ranging from Euro15,600 to Euro1.78 million (HK$159,000 to HK$18.1 million).