Lai See
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 July, 2013, 4:38am

Clive Palmer in expletive-laden rant at Citic Pacific executive


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.

Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer is not known for being the most patient of souls. The Australian has published the transcript of a recording of what it describes as an "angry expletive-laden tirade of abuse," by Palmer directed against Citic Pacific executives, together with an audio tape on its website. The voicemail, the newspaper says, was left with a Citic executive in 2010.

Citic Pacific, the state-owned mainland company, has bought the rights to mine iron ore on Palmer's site in Western Australia in return for royalty payments. The project has become a nightmare for Citic with delays and huge cost overruns. The original budget of US$2.5 billion has soared to US$8 billion and could reach US$10 billion. In addition, relations between the two parties have been strained by a number of lawsuits which relate to royalty payments.

In one of the rants, Palmer allegedly says: "We are not changing the royalty rate … Tell your chairman to stick it up his a**e". He continues: "I am chairman of this f***ing company, I don't want to ring up little s***s like you because you won't pay your bloody, your bloody rates or pay your rent. I've had enough of you so just pack up all your f***ing gear and get back to China."

In quieter moments Palmer describes himself as a lifelong friend of China with deep and respectful relationships. On occasion he offers advice to Australians in their business dealings with the mainland. He has called on politicians "to be fair and treat the Chinese people and Chinese government with the dignity they deserve."

Yesterday, Palmer said: "There is no source in these reports … it seems journalism has slipped a bit in Australia and a long way in The Australian."


Jefferies to pay HK$14.4 million

Grant Williams, the former Asia head of equity trading with investment bank Jefferies Hong Kong, on Monday was awarded about HK$14.4 million after winning his case for wrongful dismissal. Deputy High Court Judge Conrad Seagroatt ruled last month that Williams should not have been blamed for the December 7, 2010, newsletter that included a link to a YouTube video clip depicting Adolf Hitler, with subtitles that mocked JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon.

Williams had prepared the newsletter, and because he was travelling had asked someone else to handle it through the careful vetting process that had been set up for the newsletter to avoid inappropriate content. Instead, somebody pressed the wrong button and it was sent to clients, to the horror of Jefferies executives who summarily dismissed Williams the next day for "gross misconduct". Jefferies' reaction according to Seagroatt was, "verging on the absurd", and "palpably unfair", "hypersensitive" and "irrational". Seagroatt felt Jefferies' executives had panicked given the company's close relationship with JP Morgan and as a result had left Williams "high and dry".

Jefferies said it will consider appealing against Monday's court order. "Jefferies is exploring all avenues of appeal to avoid an unjust result," said a spokesman for the New York-based investment bank, according to Bloomberg.


Well appointed at HSBC

HSBC has announced a number of senior appointments. These include Simon Cooper becoming group managing director and chief executive of global commercial banking, based in London. Alan Keir has been elevated to chief executive of HSBC Bank, and will also be based in London. He takes over from Brian Robertson, who is retiring as group managing director and chief executive of HSBC Bank. Robertson will, however, become chairman of HSBC Latin America and a director of HSBC North America Holdings. In addition, he will continue in what must be several of HSBC's less onerous posts as a director of HSBC Malta and chairman of HSBC Turkey.


Parking millions

Those that take an interest in parking and its corollary - illegal parking - might be interested in the revenue that London borough councils succeed in extracting from motorists. Just five of London's 32 boroughs raised an eye-watering total of £125 million (HK$1.44 billion) from parking charges and fines last year. Just think what Hong Kong could achieve if it showed any interest in cracking down on illegal parking.


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