THE latest company revealed to have taken a cold bath on the market last year is Cross-Harbour Tunnel. Most people think this firm's business is running the cross-harbour tunnel. In fact, so much of the toll goes to the Government - 61 per cent, according to the annual report - it is more of a franchised tax-collector. The shareholders who actually paid for the tunnel to be built get a measly $2.82 out of every $10 collected. Despite this, over the years of running the tunnel the company has amassed quite a pile of cash. Running a tunnel being rather a boring business, it has generated some fizz by pouring quite a bit into stocks - quite a bit being rather an understatement. At the end of 1993, its portfolio was worth $393.1 million. Well, 'market come, market go', as they say, and by the end of 1994 this was worth $249.1 million, $144 million less. It sold $47.8 million worth of shares in that period, but that still leaves a rather nasty loss of $96.2 million for the year. Luckily, the accountants came to the rescue. Seems it's not necessary to take this as an instant loss, otherwise it would have smashed profits down by about 40 per cent and the company might have been tempted to use some of the concrete for its second tunnel to build new shoes for its stockbrokers. Sans name ONE sign of the pressures faced by beer producers is that San Miguel has started selling super-cheap beer under another name. Those who frequent Park'N Shop might have noticed a beer called Knight selling at $2.30 a can, much cheaper than the $5 a can charged for San Miguel. The cans are marked 'export quality' with no makers' name and no country of origin - for human eyes at least, as shown above. However, our computer expert reports that the bar code contains the code 4891032, which states without any doubt: 'Made in Hong Kong by San Miguel'. Yesterday being a holiday, we took the opportunity to conduct a blind tasting, and are able to confirm that the beer is indistinguishable from the standard San Mig - despite being only 46 per cent of the price. Grade wan MAJOR discovery: Chinese airlines have frequent flyer programmes offering free seat upgrades. But they don't bother with all this computerised point-counting as do international airlines - they just look at the passenger. This was discovered by Raymond Lau of Wide King International on a flight back from Haikou, Hainan, last week. Mainland planes usually have only one class of ticket, but he noticed that this one had a first class section containing just four people. 'Did those four people pay more than I did?' he asked an attendant. 'No. These people said that they were frequent first-class fliers but couldn't buy a first class ticket for this flight because it is a charter, so we invited them to sit there.' The odd thing was that the four 'frequent flyers' were three Westerners and an English-speaking Chinese. There is a suspicion that their frequent-flyer card was, in effect, their white skin or inability to speak Mandarin. Raymond chanced his luck and asked to be upgraded and his wish was granted. There is a strange irony to this. The first class residents could well have been Hong Kong-based surveyors or other salaried staff, while sitting behind them in the zoo could well have been the mainlander who owns the billion-dollar project they were advising on. On-ball Barings HOT news from Barings: the group has not gone bust and it has been rescued by the ING Group. Alert punters may have noticed some familiarity about this news, but Barings' fund management arm possibly thinks its customers do not fall into the alert category. On Tuesday, people in Hong Kong who own Barings' unit trusts, received a letter telling them this news from the group's headquarters in Dublin. The letter was dated March 10, and the postmark revealed it took them 20 days even to post it. Yes, being a fund manager is a job for those who take life leisurely. We have a vision of the Barings fund managers tripping over a big pile of letters in their office in Dublin for two weeks, before the weather got warm enough for someone to take them to the post box. Bettor ban A READER who attended last week's casino conference reports on what casinos are doing to help compulsive gamblers. One technique is 'voluntary banning'. Those who want to give up can sign a form banning themselves for six months, a year, even forever. If they turn up the next day saying they've changed their mind and want to play the tables, the management will refuse to let them, calling security guards to throw them out if necessary.