Lai See

Odd lot shareholders only here for the beer

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 April, 2013, 4:45am


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Our piece on poor shareholder behaviour at Pacific Basin's AGM last week has stirred the memory of Richard Witts who was the secretary and general manager of the Hong Kong stock exchange in the days when Hong Kong luxuriated in four exchanges.

At the Pacific Basin AGM it will be recalled onlookers were flabbergasted when one shareholder walked off with all the coffee capsules prepared for the event before the AGM had started. Witts says he remembers getting a phone call from the company secretary of San Miguel Brewery Hong Kong asking whether it could prohibit shareholders with only an odd lot from attending the AGM.

"Naturally I responded that that would not be possible. A shareholder is a shareholder and entitled to attend general meetings however many shares they have," Witt says. It seems San Miguel was concerned at the growing number of shareholders buying just an odd lot of shares so they could attend the meeting where the company's product was freely available after business was concluded.

Usually with our board lot system, odd lots are not so popular. This was certainly not the case with San Miguel.

"But at least shareholders were disciplined enough to wait for the conclusion of the meeting before the commencement of quaffing," Witts says.


Art and the market

Intelligence Squared, the organisation that provides a forum for political, economic and cultural debate has another soiree coming up shortly.

The debate will be "The Art Market is the Best Judge of Quality", and Intelligence Squared has attracted a major luminary from the art world to speak for the motion in the form of Jeffrey Deitch.

We're told he's an important figure in art history and the art market. He was a dealer, impresario and is now head of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and has been at the forefront of contemporary art.

When he has working with Citibank, he arranged for Andy Warhol to come to Hong Kong in 1982 for the opening of a nightclub in Central.

Deitch was a vice-president and he developed and managed the bank's art advisory and art finance businesses.

He told the New York Times Magazine last year that one of the misconceptions about modern art is that it is inaccessible. "Part of my agenda has been to support art that engages life with people."

In the same piece he said that his strangest artist interaction occurred when the Russian performance artist Oleg Kulik spent two weeks in his gallery as a dog.

"He was in character from the moment he got off the airplane. We rented a station wagon and put him in back as a dog on all fours," he told the magazine.

Seems like an interesting guy. The debate is on May 24.


Keswicks poach Galloway

We see that the Keswicks have poached Neil Galloway from the Kadoories' Hongkong & Shanghai Hotels. Galloway, chief financial officer at the hotel company since August 2008, is to join Dairy Farm International Holdings as group finance director in September, replacing Alec Tong, who is taking up another position within the Jardine Matheson group.

Galloway is well travelled, having previously worked with Midland Montagu (later HSBC Investment Bank) in 1990 in London with subsequent overseas postings, including France, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

He joined ABN Amro Bank in 2000, where his last role was managing director, head of mergers and acquisitions/equity capital markets, Asia.


Another delay for Citic Pacific

Citic Pacific's ill-fated US$8 billion Sino Iron project in Western Australia has been hit with further delays. The project, which has seen massive cost overruns and is three years late, has had a further setback with faulty equipment and technical hitches. The company had been hoping to get two of six production lines running this year.

Project contractor China Metallurgical Group has told Citic Pacific a gearless motor drive, which drives the grinding mill on line two, would have to removed, repaired and reinstalled. The work was expected to take about three months. It had previously been expected to be ready for commissioning by next month.