Fungs fail to take control of restaurant

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 September, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 September, 2002, 12:00am

The war for China Motor Bus is raging on in a most unusual culinary battle.

Investment bankers Peter Fung Yiu-fai and Tony Fung Wing-cheung invited shareholders to a restaurant in order to woo them over to their hostile takeover with an array of goodies worth HK$680 per table for 20 tables of 12 people.

They picked the Dragon Palace Seafood Restaurant in North Point, because CMB shareholders 'knew it well'.

No wonder. CMB, controlled by the Ngan family, and Swire Properties jointly developed and own the building. To add insult to injury, the restaurant is part of a complex known as Island Place in English but called Shing Kwan plaza in Cantonese - the name of the Ngan siblings' father and CMB founder, Ngan Shing-kwan, who died last year.

The restaurant at first accepted a HK$2,000 deposit for the function, but then had an abrupt change of heart. 'When we paid the deposit, we told the restaurant the purpose of the function and they knew it,' a source close to the Fungs' Yu Ming Investment Management said.

'However, they told us that the booking was not possible now because they had to fix the air-conditioning system.'

Having had a few air-conditioning problems ourselves lately we just know how many dramas they can cause.

We just hope for the sake of the proprietors of the new venue on September 14 - King of the King Restaurant in the Shun Tak Centre - that the Ngan siblings aren't close to that building's owner, casino magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun.

Credit cads: The latest gimmick to suck you into a spiral of debt includes a tactic which will target people probably already addicted to soccer gambling.

This is probably not how the good folks down at Dah Sing Financial's Mevas Bank would spin it, but who else do they think is going to be interested in their new Liverpool Football Club credit card?

Sure, there's lots of kiddies following Man U, Liverpool and Arsenal in the privacy of their own bedrooms and NOT using credit cards to make illegal bets on the games over the Internet.

Naturally the card will contain the sort of gizmos which block gambling from Hong Kong. Card holders get the chance to win two trips to London to watch Liverpool striker Michael Owen fake injuries and play fight with England captain and Manchester United pin-up boy David Beckham.

That is, of course, if between September 1 and October 31 banking clients spend the biggest amount or make the most number of transactions over HK$200 on the card. A perfect chance for soccer-betting addicted teens and their shopaholic parents to spend some quality time together.

Master chef: Lai See has had the pleasure of sitting through quite a few speeches by the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Supachai Panitchpakdi, on his globe-trotting PR jaunts in the lead-up to taking the reigns of the world trade club this week.

We know that the chap Mr Supachai just appointed his right-hand man as chef de cabinet, Hong Kong's former top trade official in Geneva Stuart Harbinson, will have a lot more patience.

If we understood what Mr Supachai was talking about in his first day on the job, Mr Harbinson is going to have two jobs for a while.

'Mr Harbinson's appointment to the director of the office of the Director-General partly also assuming the role of a chef de cabinet within his directorship role but as he is also at the same time conducting the meetings [as chair of the Agricultural Negotiating Committee] for the time being, I see no reason at the moment to do anything to that because it should be actually up to the members to decide what Mr Harbinson should be doing,' he said.

So whatever that means, he'll certainly be busy. In fact we know the 54-year-old career civil servant was close to having had three jobs, as it took a while for the Hong Kong civil service to give him permission to start the new job while he was still on 'pre-retirement leave'.

Graphic: whee05gbz