Lai See

Property agents will be watching this one closely

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 12:58am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 12:58am

In an unusual act of disintermediation, Philippe Espinasse, former head of equity capital markets at Macquarie and Nomura, is advertising his swish apartment on Facebook.

He modestly describes it as "a stunning 2,400 square feet property with sweeping, panoramic harbour views on upper Stubbs Road in Mid-Levels." The property is clearly in a most suitable location being "only moments away from Frank Gehry's iconic Opus Hong Kong residence and the King Yin Lei Chinese mansion."

The flat is being sold furnished and comes with high quality European furniture by Hermès, Christian Liaigre, Hughes Chevalier and Cassina. This attention to quality naturally extends to the kitchen which we are informed is very large, bright and high-end, featuring Leicht, Miele and Siemens appliances.

There's also a handy wine cellar for up to 200 bottles. To complete this luxury package an Aston Martin V8 Vantage in mint condition is also included in the sale.

If Espinasse sells his property as a result of its exposure on Facebook this could start an uncomfortable trend for property agents.


Picture perfect

Good to see that the government has chosen to commemorate its latest white elephant by using a picture of it to adorn the cover of the latest year book, Hong Kong 2013. We are of course referring to the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.

There is a splendid photograph on the book's cover of the first ship, Mariner of the Seas, berthing at the terminal. However, despite its dramatic futuristic appearance, business has been less than dynamic with 27 ships expected to berth for a total of 48 days this year. Admittedly this is an improvement on its first six months when nine ships visited for all of 15 days. At HK$8.2 billion it cost more than three times the initial estimate in 2006.

It was designed by Norman Foster's architectural firm, and the complex has been described by US lifestyle magazine Departures as "the Rolls-Royce of cruise terminals". Just what Hong Kong needs.


What price change?

The debate over whether or not Hong Kong should change its listing rules to accommodate companies such as Alibaba rumbles on in the pages of the magazine Institutional Investor.

At issue is HKEx's one share, one vote rule, which scuppered Alibaba's chance of a Hong Kong listing since Jack Ma Yun and the management control the board with about 10 per cent of the shares. Speaking to the magazine, Paul Schulte, chief executive of Hong Kong based Schulte Research International said: "Losing Alibaba was a strategic blunder for Hong Kong and the HK Stock Exchange.

"Alibaba is the future of finance, and Hong Kong is left with a bunch of old world banks. Asia is not exactly a bastion of minority shareholder interest, and there have been exceptions before."

HKEx CEO Charles Li Xiaojia, it has to be said, seems fairly ambivalent, and is calling for a "rational" debate. While accepting Hong Kong's core values are "rule of law and due process," he says this shouldn't deter discussion about change.

According to a survey by the Hong Kong-based Asian Corporate Governance Association, fund managers are overwhelmingly opposed to dual class shares. Shareholder activist David Webb told Institutional Investor: "It would be a 'race to the bottom' of regulatory standards and is not a recipe for long-term success."

It seems hard to imagine that proposals to change the one share one vote rule will ever get through the Securities and Futures Commission unless there is an unlikely change to the judicial system allowing class action suites.


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