Lai See | South China Morning Post
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  • Apr 19, 2015
  • Updated: 5:47pm

Bo Xilai

Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood. 

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 April, 2012, 12:00am

A point of clarification on fair comment

Following our reflections on the implications of Oleg Deripaska's legal fight in the London law courts with former partner Michael Cherney, we've had lawyers for Deripaska from London and a public relations firm his company uses - Strategic Financial, suggesting that a clarification is in order. In the piece we said that Cherney was demanding 13 per cent of the shares in Russian aluminium company Rusal from Deripaska the chief executive and controlling shareholder, at least for the moment. We ended saying that Deripaska 'could lose control of Rusal if the court rules in Cherney's favour'. This we are told is 'wildly speculative', and so would we please write a correction. Strategic sent us an e-mail which said, 'With regards to your article below, we would like to clarify that Cherney is suing Mr Oleg Deripaska for a 20% stake in Rusal. Oleg Deripaska, through En+, currently owns 47.4% of Rusal and the next largest shareholder is ONEXIM Group, which owns 17.02%. Therefore, if MC [Michael Cherney] is successful, Oleg Deripaska will retain a 27.4% stake in Rusal and thus retain control of Rusal.' Strategic, bless them, has got this slightly wrong in that Cherney is asking for 13 per cent not 20 per cent. So if Deripaska loses he will be left with 34.4 per cent, which, indeed, leaves him as the largest single shareholder. But the other shareholders include Michael Prokhorov's Onexim group with 17.02 per cent, former chairman Viktor Vekselberg's Sual with 13 per cent, and if he is successful in court, Cherney with 13 per cent. According to our calculations, the minorities will control 43.02 per cent, which is rather more than Deripaska's holdings. We are not saying he will definitely lose control, but that he could. That seems fair comment.

Treated without fear or favour

Good to see that the Foreign Correspondents' Club is maintaining its traditionally benevolent attitude towards its membership. Take the case of John Hung, the former chief of Wheelock & Co until he was jailed after being found guilty of accepting a bribe for helping someone become a full Jockey Club member. After serving 16 months at Stanley Prison, Hung resumed his FCC membership. Other clubs took a less charitable view. He was ejected from the Jockey Club, the Hong Kong Club and, despite being president for 11 years, the Cricket Club. So enamoured has he become of the FCC that he has decided to run as a governor in the elections. The club has had its difficulties in recent years, not least of which was in the er ... fast- tracking of membership applications.

Bo's son leaps the other way

If you're the son of Bo Xilai, which Oxford University political association do you join? Bo Xilai was big on reviving cultural revolution-style 'red culture', encouraged the singing of Maoist era patriotic songs, along with increasing spending on welfare programmes, and promoting egalitarian values. So you would have to say he inclined to the left, as they say in political circles. However, his son, Guagua, seems to swing the other way, and on encountering 'the dreaming spires of Oxford' promptly joined the Oxford University Conservative Association. Maybe he too had been inspired by Margaret Thatcher's 'great leap forward'.

Couture uniforms for the help?

We have good news for those who may be moving to Dubai and are concerned about being seen to flounder in an unfamiliar social milieu. For those aspiring to the upper echelons of the Dubai expat society, there is much to consider, as The Daily Telegraph reports. The house, its decor, the cars, the school, the club memberships, the ponies and the number of live-in staff, but also what the help wears. When browsing designer stores or hosting sharp dinner parties the maid needs to be correctly turned out. A new company has realised there is a niche to be exploited. Nanny Couture offers, 'an upscale full-service domestic helpers' label, exclusively for the social world'. That is, they are offering designer uniforms for maids. Its website says the company sells to, 'upscale affluent social groups, mainly women that pay attention to their domestic look and feel'. How has this not taken off yet in Hong Kong?

A nagging question

We bring in the weekend with this thought from Emanuel Derman, head of risk at Prisma Capital Partners and a professor at Columbia University, where he directs its programme in financial engineering. Writing on Reuters' website he asks, 'Must one do things as well as one possibly can? If you don't want to, is that a bug or a feature? And, beyond a certain age, does it matter?'


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