LAI SEE
Lai See
by

From Domani to The Continental

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 June, 2014, 1:05am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 June, 2014, 1:05am

Swire Hotels has announced the details of the restaurant that is to replace the popular Domani at Pacific Place. It is to be called The Continental and is due to open in October with interiors designed by David Collins Studio, which did The Wolseley and The Delaunay in London and Scarpetta in Miami. Domani closed on May 18 when its lease expired, and Swire took back the location. Swire says in its press statement that The Continental's menu will draw its inspiration "from the grand cafes of Europe" and will feature a variety of classic European dishes. Swire also announced two other rather oddly named new restaurants in Taikoo Place - Public and Ground Public. The latter, you will not be surprised to learn, is on the ground floor while Public will be on Level 37. Swire Hotels was established in 2008 and has eight hotels either opened or under development in Hong Kong, mainland China, the US and Britain.

 

China's first 'pure military play' excites IPO investors

We learn there is considerable investor interest in the impending initial public offering (IPO) on the mainland's domestic stock market of Great Wall Military, one of the four units of the Anhui Military Industry Group. The firm which supplies weapons to the People's Liberation Army wants to raise 450 million yuan (HK$565 million) to fund its future operations, says the online newsletter Week In China (WIC) which is distributed to HSBC clients. In recent months investors have been chasing military themes given China's rising tensions with some of its neighbours. According to Shanghai Securities News, the IPO is attracting attention as it will be the mainland's first "pure military play."

But details about the firm are somewhat opaque. The IPO prospectus for example observes that its former chairman Huang Xiaohu resigned last March. However, according to National Business Daily Huang was expelled from the Communist Party last year for corruption. But Great Wall told the newspaper the charges related to misconduct before he became chairman. Great Wall reported revenues of 1.2 billion yuan in 2013 compared with China's total defence spending of 720 billion yuan.

Given the nature of its business Great Wall is less than forthcoming about its operations, since most are classified as state secrets. WIC notes that according to China's three-tiered standard, Great Wall falls into the "Grade 2" grouping, meaning that it engages in "confidential projects". Firms with "top secret" projects are classified as Grade 1. As a result it doesn't have to provide commercial information such as the identities of its major customers or key competitors. It is similarly cagey about what it produces, telling us only that it is the leading producer of mortar shells. "Weapons makers carry state secrets to the stock market," The Beijing News told its readers. "Selective disclosure could hamper the public from making an accurate judgment on risks."

 

Bureaucracy gone mad

We have another item in the ever lengthening list of silly bureaucratic procedures. An acquaintance followed the Environmental Protection Department's advice and sold his old Euro II-standard van and bought a new Euro V Volkswagen van. He wanted to fit a reversing camera as a safety item and was told that if he did so within six months of registering the vehicle he would have to take it in for inspection and pay for a test. Then the Customs and Excise Department would calculate what additional first registration tax needed to be added a result of adding the safety camera to the vehicle.

Anyone who fails to comply with these arrangements and commits an offence is liable to a fine of HK$500,000 and imprisonment of 12 months. This is stiffer than the fine of HK$100,000 handed out to Henry Tang's wife, Lisa Kuo Yu-chin, for her illegal basement.

 

HSBC pulls down the shutters

A reader notes that while thousands sat in Victoria Park to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, HSBC closed the shutters at the ground floor area of its headquarters at 1 Queens Road Central. Our reader felt the move was insulting. But HSBC says it has grown wary following previous "occupations" of this area. "We don't want that area occupied again," Lai See was told.

 

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

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