xinhua swallows bitter pill after frog gets stuck in throat China's official Xinhua News Agency almost never issues a correction. Then it moved this item across the wires on Thursday: 'BEIJING, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- The aerobatics show, which is planned to be staged by the famous aerobatics team with French Air Force, 'Patrouille de France (PAF)', was cancelled because of heavy frog here Thursday, announced the organizers.' Rribbbbit! - and this in advance of a state visit to China by French president Jacques Chirac. A few red faces later, another despatch was hurried out: '(Recast) URGENT: French Aerobatics show cancelled because of heavy fog. 'EDS-correction to the word 'frog'.' Lai See would like it on the record that we love the French, who we would never confuse with a certain amphibian. That's why we fear for future blows to Gallic pride at the hands of mainland propagandists. What next we wonder? A Xinhua weather report, perhaps, announcing that 'it's raining cats and frogs in Paris'? charitable award It's that time of year when investment bankers and fund managers are polled by financial publications to determine their 'deal of the year'. Candidates include hotter-than-hot China Power International, Ping An Insurance (which topped all China IPOs, with $14.3 billion raised) and SMIC, whose shares have performed poorly but still raised $13.8 billion in March. But don't be surprised if the eventual winner is the Hong Kong government's own $20 billion summer bond issue. Lai See understands that the government's jumbo bond is the leading contender. Not only was it the government's first bond ever, it also attracted a strong investor response despite bearish market conditions. Its after-market performance held up, too, making it a rare deal in which everyone made money. Except, that is, for underwriters HSBC, Merrill Lynch and the Bank of China group, whose $16 million (or about 0.08 per cent) fee was derided by rivals as charity - and could ultimately spoil its hopes for the prize. hit and miss There can be a huge gap between what companies and newspapers deem newsworthy. Consider this press release put out by Hutchison's proud port arm, Hongkong International Terminals (HIT): 'Today HIT celebrated its 100th day of productivity excellence. Reaching a goal set earlier this year, HIT has recorded over 100 days in which the average quay crane productivity surpassed 35 moves an hour.' Hundredth day of quay crane productivity excellence? Even the local industry trade press yawned at that one. HIT executives, meanwhile, sacrificed a pig in celebration - and sent round the picture. Look at it this way, HIT - at least you got a mention in Lai See. Pity about the pig. musical chairs There has been another round of seat-swapping in the local investment bank analyst community. Lai See has learned that former CSFB analyst Chris Fang, after a five-month absence, will start work with Fidelity Investment as a telecoms analyst. Former CSFB China researcher Thomas Deng has moved to Goldman Sachs. And David Cui, who formerly covered conglomerates for Merrill Lynch, has been promoted to head its Shanghai research office. consolidation phase It has taken more than six years, but Citigroup has finally started to live up to its umbrella logo by grouping almost all of its corporate and investment bank businesses under the same roof. Since Citi took over Salomon Smith Barney in August 1998, the combined Hong Kong entity has been spread across different offices in Central, Admiralty, Hunghom and Quarry Bay. On October 18, 1,750 staff will take up 16 floors at Citibank Plaza. Alas its fund managers will remain a breed apart, by clearing out of Citibank Plaza and moving to Exchange Square. cross-strait jamCould there be detente across the straits? Thursday evening a dozen or so Taiwanese dropped by Beijing's CD Jazz Cafe, a lively nightspot owned by the Ministry of Agriculture. After a few rounds, they pulled out saxophones and trombones and sat in with local musicians. Only later in the evening did our spy notice the visitors' coats declaring them to be with the 'Taiwan Ministry of Defense National Orchestra'. They were also spotted swapping beers with a mainland musician from, you guessed it, China's Ministry of Defence National Orchestra.