Here's a bit of hot goss for you. Yesterday Pacific Century CyberWorks held its US$12 billion acquisition loan completion ceremony. OK, on the surface that may not sound particularly juicy or salacious. But the event drew scandal mongers from far and wide. In fact, gossip rag journos easily outnumbered financial news reporters. The object of their interest was none other than Richard Li. It seems Little Richard just broke up with his girlfriend Karen Lam. A scandal sheet broke the break-up story, sending dozens of professional rumour mongers scurrying to CyberWorks' loan ceremony on a mission to learn more. That poor Rich guy was chased about the American Club by the paparazzi pack. No one seemed remotely interested in the progress of the merger plan with Cable & Wireless HKT. When hounded for details of his lost love, he responded: 'I have to be responsible to our shareholders, sorry, can't say much about it.' But this breed of reporter isn't so easily appeased. Shot back one: 'I'm a Cyberworks shareholder, so be responsible to me and answer my question.' We don't think he should though. Just because he's responsible to shareholders doesn't mean he should share who he's holding. Vanishing act: Something strange is going on. Top telecom people are suddenly vanishing. Appointments are being broken, speaking engagements cancelled and excuses made. Perhaps they thought they could get away with it. But Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia is on to them. Their Asia Morning Line newsletter is chock full of conspiracy theories. And the web of intrigue has been woven in phone lines. It seems Hutchison, Cable & Wireless HKT and Singapore Telecom have all suddenly gone AWOL. All three of them were slated to speak at the Investors' Forum tomorrow. All three of them pulled out at the last minute. And Cyberworks boss Richard Li is no longer able to attend, and won't even do a video link-up. Hmph. CLSA is eyeing the sudden pull-out through narrowed eyes. 'It is easy to jump at shadows, but we have to be a little suspicious,' say the newsletter's authors. 'It may be coincidence . . . or are we about to see another chapter written in the C&W HKT takeover saga?' Then comes the evidence: SingTel's director of corporate development was supposed to speak but dropped out citing 'other commitments'. Say the CLSA crew: 'Given the ongoing rumour that it is sitting on the touchline waiting to get back into the C&W HKT takeover match and its most recent setback in Malaysia, we would have thought there were few more pressing engagements than speaking to its key investors . . . unless something else is up.' HKT said it had to withdraw because its lawyers had advised against speaking to investors until after the Cyberworks takeover scheme had been submitted to the courts. Hutchison's big wigs are all off in London. So how do the forum hosts plan to fill this sudden speaker void? They're putting together a panel of speakers. Their mission, says the newsletter, will be 'to discuss the issue of 'Hot Air' '. We assume that means they'll be reviewing all the excuses those telecommers gave for pulling out. Cover up: Now Lai See firmly believes that cloaking a body in mystery can lend it an aura of sexiness. Let's face it. Baring all can cost you respect first and interest second. But there's such a thing as going too far the other way, and we feel there are just a few too many cloaks and auras floating through the corridors of the Securities and Futures Commission. Especially when chairman Andrew Sheng always brags about how revealing his outfit is. Hard to say whether he means it. But then, pretty much everything is hard to say over there. Take yesterday, for example. A local brokerage placed itself on a collision course with the Securities Ordinance by announcing an offer to waive trading commission charges for newly registered clients. So a reporter called the body in search of comment. We don't comment on any particular case, said corporate communications senior manager Susanne Ho. Fair enough, but what about the SFC's policy on rule breaches in general? We don't comment on hypothetical cases, said the spokeswoman. OK, well how about a general overview of the commission's . . . We don't comment on general overviews, said the spokeswoman. The reporter was left puzzling over what, exactly, the communications manager ever manages to communicate. Sounds to us like the public relations machine is out of Commission.