Those in the broking industry are usually fairly adept at turning adversity into an opportunity. But the current investment environment appears to have defeated Jonathan Slone, chairman and chief executive of CLSA.
In his welcome message to delegates at the firm's 19th Investor Forum, he writes: "I've been trying really hard to write an upbeat, bullish, 'it's only going to get better from here' welcome … It is proving mighty difficult." Noting that problems still persisted in the EU, the US and China, he says: "The best good news is that Israel has not bombed Iran … yet."
Talking to the press later, he noted that the finance industry wasn't in great shape and he expected "capitulation from some of our competitors" when firms downsize or leave the market entirely. This happened following previous downturns in 1986, in 1988, during the Asian Financial Crisis and now. He expected further "dislocation in the market" and hoped this would provide opportunities for CLSA to grow by making some acquisitions.
So, in a nutshell Slone couldn't help himself and towards the end of his briefing was sounding moderately bullish at least so far as CLSA was concerned.
Illegal structures anyone?
The Buildings Department has broken its self-imposed silence on illegal structures, a subject that attracted headlines on an almost daily basis a month or so ago but has been blown away by the national education issue.
It organised a two-hour session yesterday with a talk on "Unauthorised Building Works", and another snappily described as "New Minor Works Items Relating to Subdivision of Flats under Building (minor Works) (Amendment) Regulation 2012".
Ever since the row over unauthorised structures blew up, the department has ignored requests for enlightenment on the subject. Was it a coincidence that the talk was held a day after Legislative Council elections?
Anyone in any doubt about unauthorised structures can consult the department's pamphlet, "Unauthorized Building Works". To check out the status of additional structures on a building, go to the website http://bravo.bd.gov.hk
Legal awards shindig
There was jubilation at Linklaters recently after being named the Hong Kong Law Firm of the Year. Along with Mayer Brown JSM, the two firms walked away with the most trophies.
The awards were organised by the publication Asian Legal Business and are now in their 11th year. Stuart Fuller of King & Wood Mallesons won Managing Partner of the Year, Robert Ashworth of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer won Hong Kong Dealmaker of the Year, and Tim Steinert of Alibaba Group won Hong Kong in-House Lawyer of the Year. Haldanes won Criminal Law Firm of the Year.
Withers was also among the winners, walking off with awards for both wealth management and matrimonial law. This is the second year the firm has won the latter award and was particularly satisfying for Sharon Ser, a partner who joined two years ago to head up matrimonial law. "This was a nice consolidation," said Ser, who used to win the award at her previous firm.
China Daily uses the F-word
We were a little startled when reading the US edition of China Daily online to come across the f-word. It wasn't tucked away on the inside pages, it was right on its front page under something called the China Forum. This listed the forum's top five stories, which included topics such as "Believe in falling in love at first sight", "Beauty contest criteria irk netizens", and then curiously, "What to do if you've f***ed up your shoes". Only the China Daily didn't use stars as we have here, it was fully spelt out.
Intrigued, we clicked the link which took us to a story about how to repair your shoes if they fall apart when you are outside. However, the headline was more subdued: "What to do if you find your shoes broken." We can only assume that either someone was using a very colloquial dictionary, or the headline was written by a disaffected employee. The headline and story later disappeared.
Another film recommendation
Watch out for The Queen of Versailles, which according to Business Insider is the best film about the financial crisis in the US. It does a good job of explaining what happened.