So, just how much are Hong Kong taipan's really worth? Good question. With Jardine's Nigel Rich announcing his departure so soon after Simon Murray's exit from Hutchison, one can only guess at their final payouts. Headhunters we have spoken to over the week reckon Hong Kong's four taipans: Mr Murray, Mr Rich, Wharf's Peter Woo and Swire's Peter Sutch, probably earned between $6 million and $12 million each last year in salary and bonuses. On top of this, each has his own personal provident fund, plus - and this is the big plus - share options. What nice little earners these can be. Take Mr Murray. The flamboyant 53-year-old former French Legionnaire, who will soon take over as Deutsche Bank group's chief executive for Asia Pacific. After nine loyal years with Li Ka-shing, he has not walked away a poor man. His provident fund, it can be assumed runs into many millions of dollars, and it is uncertain whether he has taken it with him or left it with Hut chison where he remains a non-executive director of the company. Based on our calculations, Murray probably walked away with $25 million after cashing in his stock options . . . well $25,048,370 million to be exact. When he took up his post on August 30, 1984, Hutchison's market capitalisation stood at $5.8 billion and the adjusted share price was $2.22. When he announced his resignation on August 31, the company's market capitalisation was $84.4 billion and the share price was $23.40 cents, according to stock exchange figures. According to Hutchison Whampoa's annual report for last year, Mr Murray's personal interest in the company was 196,875 ordinary shares. As a director, Mr Murray had to, by law, record his shares. As an incentive to keep staff loyal, Mr Li is said to be a very generous employer, because on September 14, according to the Director's/Chief Executive's Weekly Summaries, Mr Murray exercised his rights, under a share option scheme, for 1,600,535 shares at $8.190 per share. On the same day, he sold them at $23.840 per share, which netted him just over $25 million. Mr Murray didn't walk away with all of it though . . . the tax man took 15 per cent. VIRGIN Atlantic Airways boss Richard Branson, commenting on his plans for in-flight gambling aboard his carrier's non-stop service to Hong Kong next year, was quoted in yesterday's Financial Times sa saying: ''Once an aircraft is 32 kilometres from the airport, there are no gaming restrictions. You can do anything you want: You'll get the brothel in the sky next.'' Not on Virgin, surely?