low-profile sale of bangkok brokerage sets tongues wagging HSBC usually makes the headlines for buying things, not selling them. Yet Lai See has learned that The Bank has quietly hawked its small brokerage in Bangkok. According to an industry source, last month HSBC Securities (Thailand) was pawned off to former IB securities owner Chanchai Kulatadorn for as little as 300 million baht (HK$56.49 million). HSBC declined comment. That begs an interesting question: why sell at such a low price? The brokerage generated 41 billion baht in turnover last year and almost 56 billion baht in 2002. One conspiracy theory has it that at the outset of the Asian financial crisis, HSBC was one of the largest lenders to hedge funds betting on the baht's devaluation. The baht, of course, was duly punished; the Thai government never forgave; and HSBC's brokerage business there never gained traction. HSBC Securities (Thailand) ranked 20th last year amongst Thailand's 37 brokerages. At least HSBC's entire range of businesses in Thailand is doing better, reporting a US$59 million pre-tax profit at the interim. anything but autumn in shanghai Lai See is happy to share with readers the first of an occasional Shanghai Postcard, courtesy of my colleague stationed there: Everyone is talking about the weather in Shanghai. Last Saturday was supposed to be li qiu - the arrival of autumn - but the term provoked only laughter and amusement as temperatures approached 36 degrees Celsius. 'Li qiu refers to the era of my grandparents, when there were no air conditioners and they used hand-fans and, later, electric fans,' said Liu Meiling, an office worker in her 20s, as she sheltered under an umbrella. 'They never had the temperatures we have today - li qiu really meant a turn in the weather. Now we cannot live without cars and air conditioners, which make the air even hotter. It is a vicious cycle.' The Shanghai municipal government has promised rain and jets are on stand-by to drop chemicals on water-bearing clouds. Yesterday the forecast was for 28 to 35 degrees weather with a 60 per cent chance of rain. Made by God or man, we wondered? windfall brings forth feast Local tycoons are famous for their generosity when it comes to feeding their friends. Henderson Land executives treated one of Lai See's friends to his best lunch ever - bird's nest, shark fins and abalone at the famous Fook Lam Moon Restaurant - after the company reaped $4 billion from the sale of 800 units at its Grand Promenade development in Sai Wan Ho. Another friend of Lai See's recently received a big box of Hawaiian papayas from clients Li Ka-shing and his son Victor. Lai See understands that Mr Li is in the habit of sending fresh fruit to his business partners. Here in Quarry Bay, we remember fondly the days when we used to receive flowers and vegetables from CK Life Sciences International (Holdings), which is focusing on fertiliser production while its scientists continue their elusive hunt for an AIDS cure. The vegetables were significantly bigger than those we could find in the supermarkets. brewer tries to win peace Not long after the dust settled on China's first-ever hostile takeover battle - SABMiller and Anheuser Busch's struggle for control of Harbin Brewery - the highly prized brewer is trying to brush up its image. We recently spotted a Hong Kong tram sporting Harbin's latest advertising slogan: 'Shareholders change, passion doesn't'. Lai See understands that this marketing message is not a nationwide effort but instead tailored for Hong Kong, where the battle occurred and was much publicised. first family keeps it legal Reporters covering last Friday's results briefing by Orient Overseas (International) Ltd, Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's family flagship, wondered why they only received a hard copy of the interim results only after the press conference - especially as OOIL had a strong set of numbers to crow about, with profits up 240 per cent and generous dividends on offer. Lai See is told that the delay stemmed from OOIL's need to first secure the necessary approvals from the Hong Kong stock exchange. The press conference, we understand, also had to await clearance from the securities watchdog before it could kick off. Exchange rules state that, in the interests of fair disclosure, firms need its approval before giving market-sensitive information to the media. 'Either you bend the rule or you break the rule,' one OOIL insider tells us. We're glad to hear that there are no exceptions for Hong Kong's first family.