We don't normally like to split hairs with Li Ka-shing. But we were struck by his recent comments about the Cheung Kong Center. Li said that just because he wanted to sell ParknShop did not mean he was withdrawing from Hong Kong, adding: "to me, if I sell this building [Cheung Kong Center], you should start to worry." Strictly speaking it is not altogether "his" to sell. First off, the building is owned by Hutchison Whampoa and not Cheung Kong. It's not clear how much, if anything was paid for the naming rights. The Li Ka-shing Unity Trust owns 39.43 per cent of Cheung Kong, which in turn owns 52.45 per cent of Hutchison according to Bloomberg. So the trust has an indirect 20 per cent in this building. Which means, er … it is not his to sell.
We hear of unruly behaviour by bankers at a somewhat strained meeting of underwriters involved in the China Huishan Dairy IPO. At one point the meeting erupted into a shouting match between the HSBC and Goldman bankers in front of about 20 other underwriters, according to Reuters.
The row in this instance revolved around the issue of cornerstone investors. It appears that HSBC had done rather well in its efforts to secure cornerstone investors for the firm and felt it should be given credit for its part. Typically, according to Reuters, this can involve a bank being put in charge of investor meetings, getting a greater financial cut, or playing a lead role in the firm's post-IPO stock trading.
However, other underwriters felt that HSBC was seeking more credit than it deserved, prompting the Goldman banker to threaten to get his HSBC rival fired. At this point a more junior HSBC banker joined in and after several more angry exchanges reportedly said: "Do you know who my father is? Do you know who my grandfather is?" This is the kind of language normally used by princelings. However, according to Reuters, one of those involved in the IPO said the banker did not have family ties to the mainland's political elite. It's apparently not unusual for rival bankers to yell at each other over deals, but not at such a large meeting.
At the risk of incurring the wrath of fellow journalists I feel duty-bound to draw attention to a new dimension to the idling engine menace. A doctor writes to say that he has observed journalists sitting in their cars near the entrance to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, with engines running. "They are probably waiting for the arrival of an intoxicated celebrity or injured VIP at the doorsteps of the hospital … to take a photo etc!", adding, "Needless to say it is illegal to stop at the place, where your colleagues [?] are parking."
There are now more than 200 "cancer villages" on the mainland, according to a water expert. Wang Hao, a fellow of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told a forum held by Caijing that these were due to heavily polluted underground water systems. He said 55 per cent of monitored water stations report polluted underground water, mostly in the provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan and Yunan. Over 120 residents were diagnosed with cancer in a village in the northern part of Tianjin city, said Wang.
My father is Li Gang
Investigative journalist Yin Yusheng has hit on an interesting approach to investigative journalism on the mainland. One day last week he posted a message on weibo: "I'm a senior reporter with extensive experience and I'm not frightened by powerful people or violence … I will be an independent investigative reporter, not attached to any media agency. I will be together with net users when I'm online and when I'm reporting at the scene. I want to report the news that net users want to know."
Global Times reports that the next day he had collected 5,000 yuan from net users, enough for him to commence his investigations. This approach might work for Yin, who has something of a reputation. He reported the case of the son of a local police official who had run over two female students, leaving one dead and the other injured, at Hebei University in Baoding in 2010. The young man famously shouted "my father is Li Gang". It brought Yin national fame but cost him his job.