Lai See

Rare opportunity to bid for Bernie Madoff's Bull

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 September, 2013, 3:40am

We hear of a little something that might even interest the tycoon that has everything. Bernie Madoff's yacht Bull is back on the market after it was withdrawn from auction in 2009. French investment firm Meeschaert had filed a court order in France to have the yacht seized in an attempt to recover some of the losses it sustained at the hands of Madoff.

The liquidators tried to sell the yacht earlier this year in Monaco where the Gaim conference, one of the hedge fund industry's most glamour events, was being held. Potential bidders sipped champagne at a reception at a two-star Michelin restaurant while the boat zipped up and down Monaco harbour at about 40 knots.

The boat was reportedly offered for sale earlier this year at US$4.3 million, which is a fraction of its original US$8 million. However, a press release from broker Debutesq suggests the price has slid further when it says the underwriters were seeking offers of €1.9 million (HK$19.6 million).

The yacht is an 88-foot Leopard and can be seen at the Monaco Yacht Show, which runs from September 25 to 28. One of its distinctive features is that its catering equipment has never been used since Madoff was fastidious about mess and wouldn't allow food on board. It also comes with monogrammed towels and bespoke bed covers with the initials of Ruth and Bernie Madoff. Given his 150-year jail sentence, he is unlikely to be needing those again.


Over my dead body

Shanghai Fu Shou Yuan Industrial Development is planning a Hong Kong initial public offering, according to the Economic Journal. The company is hoping to raise as much as US$200 million.

The offer is interesting because the firm's main business is building cemeteries and organising funerals, although why it should need so much funding is another story. The risk section in the prospectus should make interesting reading: "There is a danger that China may succeed in cleaning the air in its major urban centres, resulting in less business. Much of the country's adulterated food may be withdrawn from the market, posing the risk of fewer deaths", and so on. Citi is reported to be the IPO's undertaker, or rather, underwriter.


Manulife smells the coffee

Life insurer Manulife has come up with a nifty wheeze to promote its services. It's handing out coffee mugs that pose the question: "Want a coffee every day after you retire?" Assuming you carry on living for 25 years after you retire, it carries a little calculation just to drive home the point. Assuming HK$33 for a coffee, we get 33x365x25 = HK$301,125. If you are sufficiently shocked by the answer, then you know where to go.


Kylie to sing for CLSA

Despite its new owner - Citic Securities - CLSA is pursuing the style of investor forum that it has made its own. The 1,600 investors from 33 countries that are expected to converge on the Grand Hyatt next week for its 20th investor forum will get the usual package of one-on-one meetings, keynote speeches, brainstorming schmoozing and entertainment.

The gala party has attracted some notable names - Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera, Tom Jones, Rihanna, Debbie Harry, to name a few. This year's celebrity entertainment comes courtesy of singer Kylie Minogue, who at 45 may resonate more with older guests. Her first big hit I should be so lucky was in 1987.


Wealth management matters

We hear of more funny business involving the mainland's wealth management products. This one involves Hongyuan Securities. Two bond trading executives were taken away by police after a company insider accused them of illegally moving corporate investments for personal gain, Caixin reports.

Bond salesmen and traders were allowed to invest in wealth management products with annual yields as high as 70 per cent as an incentive scheme. Hongyuan is government-owned, so salaries are capped by the Ministry of Finance at levels lower than those of private securities firms.

The department also shifted investments with expected high yields from its own portfolio to Hongyuan's wealth management plans to which employees subscribed, a move that was apparently supported by the company, but the legality of which is uncertain.