Survey reveals further redundancies on cards Forty-three per cent of Hong Kong companies expect to lay off staff this year, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 160 firms. More than a third of the employers also said they would freeze recruitment. The survey follows news that unemployment had reached a record high of 6.7 per cent for the three months to January. However, PricewaterhouseCoopers said the poll results were better than expected, in that it was a minority of companies planning to make redundancies and that most companies might have already made the cuts they needed to see them through the economic downturn. Property development propels CLP earnings up 26pc A stronger than expected performance from property development and mainland power projects lifted power utility CLP Holdings' net earnings almost 26 per cent to HK$7.25 billion last year. Meanwhile, Hongkong Land Holdings slid to a net loss of US$416 million last year due to a huge property revaluation deficit arising from a change in accounting standards. China Minsheng Bank investigating official for fraud China Minsheng Bank, the country's only private bank, became the latest mainland lender to reveal it is investigating officials for fraud. China Minsheng is one of the nation's three listed banks and has the reputation of being better run than most. On Monday, the bank accused a former loan officer of defrauding it of 108 million yuan (about HK$101.21 million). Government plans residency-for-investment scheme Foreigners who wish to move to Hong Kong and are prepared to invest about HK$6.5 million here are to be offered residency under a proposed scheme, to be introduced this year. Overseas investors and their immediate families would still have to live in the SAR for seven years to gain permanent residency, Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said on Tuesday. KCRC abandons plans to award no-tender contract The KCRC has dropped plans to award a multi-billion-dollar contract to build the tunnel for the Lok Ma Chau Spur line to a French firm without putting it up for competitive tender. The railway's management had proposed to the board last month that the contract be granted to Dragages et Travaux Publics (HK) without tendering due to the project's urgency. However, the KCRC board on Monday told its management to conduct a competitive tender. Greenspan proclaims end of US recession The United States recession appeared to be drawing to a close, an upbeat Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said on Wednesday night. Ever-cautious, he warned that the recovery could be mild even though inventories were now being built back up and businesses were starting to manufacture and invest once more. But 'even a subdued recovery beginning soon would constitute a truly remarkable performance for the American economy in the face of so severe a decline in equity asset values and an unprecedented blow from terrorists to the foundations of our market systems', Mr Greenspan said. Low-income families lose out to developers One of the choicest residential sites on Hong Kong Island - North Point Estate, earmarked to provide subsidised flats for low-income families - will be sold to developers instead, providing the Government with an estimated windfall of HK$9 billion. Community groups and housing officials expressed dismay at the turnaround, accusing the administration of again kowtowing to property tycoons, but some analysts described it as a sensible move in light of the chronic budget problems the Government is facing over the next five years. Tiger visit drives up Shenzhen tax revenues Providing an unusual boost to city revenues, it emerged that Tiger Woods, the world's top golfer, was the biggest taxpayer in Shenzhen last year. The city's taxation bureau confirmed that Mr Woods, who played at the Mission Hills Club near Shenzhen in November, had paid about four million yuan (about HK$3.76 million). The 25-year-old reportedly earned US$2 million for playing two rounds - one with Asian professionals and another with 72 amateurs who paid up to HK$623,000 each to play one hole with him. US-dollar bond issue receives warm reception Investors have piled into the first major US-dollar bond issue by a state-controlled mainland company in nearly nine months, prompting oil giant CNOOC to consider raising the issue by 50 per cent to US$750 million and suggesting quality mainland firms with substantial US-dollar-linked revenues and cash flows can attract investment in the bond market amid a faltering equities market. Hong Kong's mega-monied see fortunes diminish According to Forbes Global magazine, the fortunes of Hong Kong's super-rich have been diminished by the economic downturn, but Li Ka-shing, with a fortune estimated at US$10 billion, remains Asia's wealthiest man. Eleven of Hong Kong's 12 US-dollar billionaires saw their wealth diminish, the exception being gambling tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun. Sales levy urged to tackle mounting deficit problems As pressure mounts to address Hong Kong's deficit problems, a government-appointed committee has recommended that a sales tax should be introduced as soon as possible. The committee said it would take three or four years to implement the levy, which it suggested should be set at 3 per cent.