• Fri
  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 2:47am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 May, 2013, 4:41am

We can delete it for you wholesale

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

While the anti-corruption crackdown on the mainland is causing a degree of pain for those in the restaurant and luxury goods business, it has been good news for another kind of business.

These are the so-called "black public relations" firms, which, according to The Daily Telegraph, can make stories "go away". The newspaper quotes a manager at Yage Times, one of the largest of these firms: "It does not matter how big or sensitive the story is, we can make it disappear."

What officials with something to hide fear most is the internet, which accounted for 42 per cent of tip-offs about corrupts officials this year. Business is apparently booming, with at least 30 companies that have sprung up to offer government officials, shady businessmen and scandal-hit celebrities the opportunity to "clean up" their image online.

The Telegraph quotes a representative from one firm as saying it recently helped the head of a police bureau delete stories about him on the internet. "We can clean your name from blogs, forums, news websites, Weibo, everything," the firm says. Apparently, it costs 13,000 yuan (HK$16,460) to have a story deleted from the People's Daily website or from Xinhua.

One company claimed to have had 313 clients in the past 30 days. Deleting a story apparently requires either bribing an editor at a website or a government official who can send a censorship demand.

 

Goldman pulls ahead in the hedge

Goldman Sachs has extended its supremacy in the region's US$148 billion hedge fund industry, according to a new survey by AsiaHedge, with Credit Suisse edging out Morgan Stanley to become the second-largest prime broker in Asia this year. Goldman has US$24.6 billion in assets from 179 clients. Morgan Stanley was followed by Deutsche Bank, UBS, Citi, HSBC and JP Morgan. Credit Suisse, according to AsiaHedge, is now the biggest prime broker in China and Hong Kong, supplanting Deutsche Bank.

 

The unimportance of sleep

That fine seat of learning, the London School of Economics, recently held its 2013 Global Leadership Summit, which was attended by 600 people. A live poll conducted during the summit makes for interesting reading. To the question "What do our business leaders need more of to make better informed decisions?", 50 per cent answered "people who challenge their viewpoint", 30 per cent said "people who will tell them hard truths", 11 per cent plumped for "shareholder scrutiny" and only 8 per cent said "sleep".

As for when we can expect to see a sustained global economic recovery, 4.5 per cent said next year, 41 per cent went for 2016, 41 per cent said 2018, and a gloomy 8 per cent said 2023.

On European leadership, 66 per cent felt that Europe's political leadership had exacerbated the crisis, while 28 per cent felt it hadn't. Asked for the biggest barriers to expanding into the BRIC countries, 56 per cent said lack of understanding of local business practices, while 25 per cent voted for risk aversion, with the rest going for a lack of the ambition to venture beyond traditional markets.

 

Jefferies tops workplace poll

Jefferies has come out on top for the fourth year running in the poll for "Best place to work in the global financial markets", conducted by the website Here is the City . Mitsubishi UFJ Securities was in second place, followed by Bank of Montreal/BMO Capital Markets, Aberdeen Asset Management, and M&G Asset Management. Other rankings of interest out of the top 100 included BNP Paribas at 14, Normura at 15, Morgan Stanley at 16, Standard Chartered at 17, Societe Generale at 23, Credit Suisse at 24, Barclays at 29, Goldman Sachs at 32, Bank of America Merrill Lynch at 35, JP Morgan at 36, Citi at 39, UBS at 45, HSBC at 49 and Deutsche Bank at 60.

 

Banking's fading allure

Definitive evidence that the allure of banking as a career is diminishing has emerged from the Harvard Crimson, the daily newspaper of Harvard University. Its poll found that although some still want to work in banking, their numbers are plummeting. In 2007, according to the Crimson, 47 per cent of Harvard graduates wanted to go into finance. This year, the figure was just 15 per cent, although that is an improvement on last year, when only 9 per cent wanted to be a banker.

 

Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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