Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 April, 2012, 12:00am


Zeman acquires another new friend in high places

Former British prime minister Harold Wilson famously said circa 1964: 'A week is a long time in politics.' In the case of Allan Zeman, you could say it's more like a month. Only last month he was rooting for Henry Tang Ying-yen in the election for chief executive.

Such was his conviction that Tang was the right man for the job that he somehow convinced himself that it made sense to say it would be OK for Tang to win the election even if he only managed to get within 20 percentage points of C.Y. Leung in the opinion polls.

Now, according to Ming Pao, Zeman is referring to Leung as a 'friend'.

Zeman is chairman of Ocean Park - though his term expires in June. The new favourable terms in which Zeman now talks of Leung prompted the newspaper to ask if he had been asked to stay on. Zeman declined to answer.

Savvy Zavatti

It's good to see young entrepreneurs doing well. Take the case of 24-year-old Gabriella Zavatti. She hit on the idea of introducing something new into the Hong Kong drinks scene in the form of a different kind of shot.

It comes in a 30ml package and contains two liqueurs kept separately in the glass. There are four shots which are produced in Australia. The shots are sold separately at HK$20 a pop or in packs of four at HK$69.90. Having spent practically all her life in Hong Kong, she went to university in Australia but when she came back, felt that what the city drank had not changed much.

Not that she's a party girl, mind. She says: 'I felt there was a niche for something far more sophisticated and more chic.'

The market has responded. Since December 1, when her company Zavva Concepts started operations, she has sold 80,000 units amounting to revenue of HK$5.6 million, which can't be bad. She says things have been going better than expected.

Start-up capital came in the form of a loan from her father Sam Zavatti, who was a prominent banker in Hong Kong with ABN Amro.

The shots can be found in Dairy Farm outlets such as 7-Eleven, Market Place, ThreeSixty, Wellcome, and Oliver's. But she is also working to get them into other outlets such as hotel mini-bars. Having sampled a few, we can say they certainly work.

Young professionals party for charity

Hats off to those who attended the recent 49th Young Professionals Cocktail Party. No, this is not some kind of sophisticated speed dating event. It's a networking event organised by the International Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

Some 40 young professionals turned up to Prive in Wyndham Street to swap name cards. At the same time, they raised HK$48,120 for charity.

The proceeds from this event, which was organised by Japanese, Danish and Swedish chambers of commerce, were donated to the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children, an organisation that has been nurturing and protecting children in Hong Kong since 1926. Good effort.

Boycotting the big six

Michael Lewis of Liar's Poker and The Big Short fame has been reflecting in his column for The Daily Beast on the Occupy movement, of which he is a supporter, although he didn't pitch a tent at any of the Occupy venues.

He says that if he was in charge, he would, 'probably reorganise the movement around a single, achievable goal: a financial boycott of the six 'too big to fail' Wall Street firms: Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo'.

People would be encouraged to withdraw their funds from the big banks and deposit them in smaller, not 'too big to fail' banks. The idea being that these banks would be less inclined to do anything stupid with other people's money like investing in subprime mortgages.

Fear is the key

Despite the rally in stocks over the past few months, you don't get the feeling of any great conviction in all this. BlackRock's Larry Fink who's been advising investors to jump into the market, says clients are still overwhelmed by fear and global markets remain 'fragile', Bloomberg reports.

He says customers have been moving money from active equity products into passive investments such as exchange-traded funds.

'I would still say the fears of the investor are more overwhelming than the hope for a better future,' he observes.

His message to investors to allocate more funds to equities as bond yields have shrunk to record lows, has yet to gain traction as clients continue to put more money into active fixed-income products.