Bankers are rarely the subject of fawning praise. So it was with faint embarrassment that the pin-striped profession read Sir Gordon Wu Ying-sheung's newspaper tribute. The point of the mercurial tycoon's three-part soliloquy, lauding Hopewell Holding's achievements, left bankers amused but muddled. Hopewell Holdings suffers an investor relations problem. Sir Gordon has long felt misunderstood and with a captive audience of senior bankers in town he took the chance to tell his story. Whether the M&C Saatchi campaign can do for the troubled infrastructure group what its predecessor Saatchi and Saatchi did for the British Conservative party remains to be seen. Sceptics think the ad-men face a tougher sell in Hopewell. Sir Gordon is a hard man to read. Bogged down in negotiations over the Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System (Berts) a write down of the estimated $5 billion thus far committed looms. Rescuing the deal demands a giant vote of faith from the banks. Is Sir Gordon engaged in a bizarre attempt to pull the heart strings of that most unflappable crowd? Thought to owe Hongkong Bank anywhere up to $7 billion the praise heaped on group chief executive William Purves was gushing. HSBC chief executive David Eldon said how nice it was to see bankers being praised. Sir Gordon has long derided securities traders for their narrow focus and share price manipulation. By contrast he clearly values the longer-term horizon of bankers. Yet it is hard to avoid the impression of a back-handed compliment with his old chums backing off Berts. The moment of truth is looming. Two months ago the Thai Government threatened to cancel Hopewell's contract. Subsequently, the Hong Kong firm demanded toll increases if the project was to remain viable. A cottage industry of rumours suggesting an imminent sell-out has caused sharp share price fluctuations. The most credible rumour points to a deal with Li Ka-shing. Cheung Kong Infrastructure has consistently denied interest but its involvement with Hopewell in mainland toll roads is striking. Could a battle weary Sir Gordon be readying to sell his 28 per cent stake in the company before retirement. A Cheung Kong purchase followed by a general offer must rank as an outside bet. Launching a takeover from such a low shareholding base inevitably would be messy. Exerting little influence in Bangkok and a mixed record in major investments outside Hong Kong, Mr Li seems unlikely to risk Berts. His interest would centre on Hopewell's domestic property interests and six Guangdong road projects including the Guangzhou-Shenzhen superhighway. Hopewell trades well below net asset value, estimated by SocGen Crosby at $7.50. Analysts differ on the impact of scrapping Berts. Recent trading patterns point to a bounce. But with a giant write off likely, Hong Kong's only major company that is actually shrinking hardly looks a bright prospect. Other complications include the $3.7 billion Tangjung Jati power plant - where a similar bureaucratic quagmire is likely to dissuade potential buyers. Then again Mr Wu may intend nothing of the sort. The company is aggressively selling a US$600 million bond offering. Perhaps with so many bankers in town he really does want to persuade them that their money is safe. More to the point; that they should give him more.