Lai See

Government tries to bury embarrassing climbdown

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 4:16am

We see that the government has adopted the time-honoured approach to dealing with bad news. We are referring to its embarrassing climbdown on the issue of the publication of directors' identity card numbers. It adopted a three-pronged approach: first, burying the decision not to proceed in verbiage, second, putting it out on the same day as other news likely to attract more attention, viz "The clean air plan for Hong Kong", and third, making the announcement on the afternoon of an exceptionally long weekend.

The government proposes to push ahead with the changes to the Companies Ordinance, with the exception of the proposals relating to the publication of ID numbers. A paper by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau explaining "the proposed way forward for the new arrangement for the inspection of personal information on the Companies Register …" rambles on for 10 pages until the penultimate paragraph where it actually makes the point with some clarity. "Pending further deliberations on the new arrangements with regard to directors' personal information, the full identification numbers of company secretaries and these other relevant individuals will continue to be made available on the Companies Registrar." Bravo.


Grass greener on corporate side

The jobs outlook for investment bankers is so bleak in Hong Kong that a number are doing what was unthinkable a year ago and taking up positions in the somewhat less exhilarating environment of corporate banking.

This interesting detail emerged from a round table discussion in Hong Kong by 13 senior headhunters, organised by eFinancial Careers. While demand for investment bankers is limited, the outlook for corporate banking is significantly better, because it provides steady revenues for less risk as large companies in Asia seek services such as loans and cash management. Now there's a thought, investment bankers taking up cash management. Some in the industry say that while cash management is low-risk and lucrative, it is as exciting as watching grass grow.


Ajay Kapur makes a move

We see that Ajay Kapur is on the move again. The much-travelled strategist is leaving after two years with Deutsche Bank to join Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he appears to have a sort of super-strategist position. He will be Asia-Pacific equity strategist, along with the newly created role of GEM strategist. Steve Haggerty, head of Asia Pacific, gave him a fulsome welcome: "He has built one of the most highly regarded franchises in equity strategy and has been consistently top-three rated in a range of the major global and Asian external surveys."


The lion sleeps tonight

Xijiu, one of the largest purveyors across the border of the many fine liqueurs to be found there, has opened its first flagship store outside the mainland. The new store, at Kowloon Station, threw wide the doors for the first time yesterday. As is common with the start of new ventures, the opening ceremony was accompanied by a lion dance. This was a dance with a difference, however. Although accompanied by the traditional music, the lion, instead of leaping about, cautiously sniffed around what was supposed to be a bowl of liquor, drank it, then rolled on the ground in a supposed state of stupefaction. Dancing aside, the move appears to be part of a new trend where mainland liquor companies follow their customers abroad.


Heads up for anti-collision app

The local technology company iCon has come up with an unusual app as a solution to what is an increasingly painful problem in Hong Kong. It is a response to the rise in the number of pedestrians being treated for head injuries after walking into another person or a stationary object while looking at their smartphones. Using the latest image recognition technology, the HeadsApp app emits a warning signal when a collision appears imminent, thus saving the user potential pain and angry confrontations with others. The app's inventor claims its early-warning radar system will instil greater confidence among smartphone-using pedestrians, enabling them to walk more quickly. The application will be on sale from April 1.