A question of commitment to the 'United States of Asia'
We hear that Claire Huang, global head of international marketing and corporate affairs at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, is leaving. Her arrival in April last year was trumpeted as a commitment to Asia by the firm since she was its first global head to be based in the region. She leaves after just over a year to take on a massive job as chief marketing officer for JPMorgan in New York.
Her task of rebuilding the marketing and corporate affairs team in Asia and building up the brand was supposed to be a two-year appointment. Her replacement is expected to be based in the US rather than Asia. Those who work with her say that not having previous Asian experience made her task more challenging.
As she said in an interview with the Asian Wall Street Journal in October, 'I guess I had in the back of my mind that this is the United States of Asia. But it's not. That's such an American way of thinking.' This Sarah-Palin-like comment raised some eyebrows. Not everyone is convinced that her task of rebuilding the brand in Asia was a success. Her departure was a big surprise for the company and possibly for readers of her interview in the AWSJ who might recall her comment that 'we need to show we're here for the long term and we're committed to our clients ...'
Grace Kataoka, who was appointed by Huang as head of Asia-Pacific corporate social responsibility, is also leaving the company after just one year in the position.
Fear of flying free
We have been alerted to an interesting wrinkle in the case of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and the two holiday trips he took on private jets. Readers will recall that several months ago, Tsang admitted flying to Phuket with his wife on a private jet. He then made great play of saying that he paid for the trips. 'I always pay for the trip at the market price, even though this may give an impression of being petty-minded,' he had said on RTHK.
In most places, it is illegal for operators of private jets to accept payment for trips. It is certainly the case for private jets registered in Hong Kong, where both the operator and the pilot can be held liable for breaking licensing laws as private jets and jets used for taking paying passengers have different licences. So Tsang may have unwittingly dobbed his tycoon-friend in. It was either that or say - horror of horrors - the flight was free.
Flagging the wrong message
The People's Daily has taken some stick for its coverage of the final photo shoot at the G20 meeting. Little national flags were stuck to the carpet to show the leaders where to stand. As they moved off, President Hu Jintao bent down and apparently picked up the Chinese national flag and carefully conserved it. This was noticed by netizens, who hailed Hu for his patriotism, and the story was duly reported in the People's Daily.
However, it then transpired that Hu was merely removing the flag that had become stuck to his shoe.
Weibo exploded with derision and scorn at those, including the People's Daily, who had viewed this as a patriotic act. The paper proceeded with its editorial stating that Hu Jintao loves Chinese flags so much, he couldn't bear to leave one behind even after all the other leaders did just that. A lesson for us all.
A matter of billions
JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon was back at Capitol Hill on Tuesday for more scrutiny over its recent multibillion-dollar trading loss. But before he could speak, he was upstaged by sparring legislators. 'I am a little surprised by all the hemming and hawing by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle over a private business losing private money when the federal government continues to lose billions of taxpayer dollars every day,' Republican member of the House, Scott Garrett, said. Democrat Michael Capuano responded by blaming Republicans for introducing legislation to weaken new rules for Wall Street.
Banning bankers for life
Bankers in London are increasingly being banned for life for breaking market abuse rules by the Financial Services Authority. The authority is trying to create a reputation as being a tough regulator following the bashing it took in the wake of the global financial crisis, Bloomberg reports. Its 'light touch' regulation was widely blamed for some of the risks that banks took prior to the crisis. Bans peaked in the year to April 2011, with 71 people excluded from the banking and mortgage industries, up from 56 the previous year. The number declined to 47 in the year to April 2012. The agency banned only four people in 2003.