WHAT'S in a name? According to World International chairman and Wheelock Marden managing director John Hung, just about everything. It is not every day a major company like World International turns around and cancels the previous nine years of company branding and goodwill. But the re-branding to Wheelock Marden looks like being a positive move. The name comes from a 130-year-old former hong which was privatised in a celebrated and controversial initiative undertaken by Peter Woo's father-in-law, the late Sir Yue-kong Pao. This bit of entrepreneurial Chinese business machismo will go down in Hong Kong's corporate history books as one of the bloodiest and most contested. Mr Woo has chosen to change the name at a time when he wants to see the parent of Wharf Holdings loom high in the hoardings, as opposed to being a poor second to the success reaped by Wharf through image-building since 1990. This will be interpreted by many observers as yet another move by Mr Woo, the emerging Chinese taipan, to distance himself from the old man by reversing one of his greatest statements. The change also appears in the face of an increasingly sinophile Hong Kong corporate culture towards 1997. Despite its British trading hong connotations in English, Wheelock Marden is a well-established name in Chinese, as the company was formed in Shanghai. In London and New York, apparently, Wheelock Marden is recognised and has some currency that could be developed. All this may or may not be true. Whether or not the now privately owned Wheelock Marden, under the same holding name, successfully develops into a trading and merchant entity on the scale of Jardine Pacific or Inchcape Pacific, only a five-year track record will tell. But one thing is sure: the symbolism of the name change and the role Mr Woo plays in the group will be read as more significant in Hong Kong.