Lai See

Rusal plays down Barry Cheung's resignation from board

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 2:51am

In March last year CY Leung's victory in the "election" of the chief executive was celebrated on the website of Hong Kong-listed Russian aluminium company Rusal. This was because Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, then Rusal's chairman, played a significant part in CY's campaign.

The Rusal statement was fulsome in its praise of Cheung: "Mr Leung's winning was the culmination of a long and active campaign supported by a highly professional campaign office headed by Mr Cheung." However, the company's response to Cheung's resignation as an independent non-executive director at the end of last week following his problems with the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange was somewhat muted.

There was no mention of his resignation on its website, just a regulatory filing on his departure to the Hong Kong stock exchange. His departure raises the question of whether there will be any Hong Kong directors on the Rusal board following the AGM on June 14.

As we noted earlier, Sual Partners, which owns 15.8 per cent of Rusal, has tabled a resolution to remove former Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie from the board.

She was appointed along with Cheung when the company's Hong Kong IPO was struggling in December 2009. But it's unclear how much support the 'controlling' shareholder, Oleg Deripaska, can actually muster.

The website Dancing with Bears points out that Rusal's website says Deripaska controls 48.13 per cent of the firm. However, a report filed in February 2012 with the Jersey financial Services Commission shows that Deripaska's EN+ controls 38.01 per cent, suggesting that he may not have enough votes to ensure his candidates make it on to the board.


Mirae's man in fight night

Korean fund management group Mirae Asset has just announced the appointment of former British army captain Ashley Dale as the firm's chief marketing officer.

In a signal that Mirae Asset aims to up its game in a global heavyweight league populated by the likes of BlackRock, Fidelity and JP Morgan. The question, though, is whether Dale, whose new responsibilities cover both the Asia-Pacific and Europe, may be taking that remit a little too literally.

Tomorrow night he will be climbing into the ring at the Indian Recreation Club in Happy Valley to slug it out over three rounds with Dominic Smith, a fellow fund manager from HSBC. The bout is one of eight being held in aid of the children's charities Operation Breakthrough and Operation Smile, and it represents something of a triumph in itself for Dale, who took up boxing only four months ago and had to biff his way into the final 16 to get this far.

"Dominic is a really nice guy, but he's a well 'ard Scouser, so I'm not entirely sure where this is going," Dale confesses a trifle nervously. Our advice? Take a mixed portfolio approach with a solid weighting of defensive plays and remember it's all about timing.


Heavyweight chefs in wager

Two of Hong Kong's heavyweight chefs are competing to see who can lose the most weight, with the loser donating HK$20,000 to charity. The contestants - Harlan Goldstein of Lan Kwai Fong outlets Gold and Strip House and Alvin Leung of Bo Innovation and MC Kitchen - will undergo three months of dieting and exercise.

The loser will also have to serve in the winner's restaurant dressed as a waitress. It's enough to put you off your food.


Coffee conundrum

The price of coffee has fallen. Or it least the price of coffee futures have. Not that you would have noticed since coffee prices don't appear to have moved in Hong Kong. But, just for the record, arabica beans on the IntercontinentalExchange have slipped below US$1.30 a pound for the first time since March 2010, having hit a high of US$2.99 in April 2011.

While Starbucks has reduced the price of its beans in the US, the price of drinking its coffee hasn't moved. As usual, when the price of a commodity rises consumer prices rise. But when commodity prices fall there's always a good reason for not reducing prices. Attempts to speak to Starbucks about this were unsuccessful.