hutchison cfo's 3G makeover falls far short of our comic expectations Four months ago, Hutchison Whampoa chief financial officer Frank Sixt made a bold promise: to cut his hair short like his boss, Li Ka-shing, if the company's 3G business met certain subscriber targets by Christmas. With Hutchison's 3G customer base doubling since September, Mr Sixt has indeed subjected himself to the shears. While we are pleased to bring you a picture of the result, provided courtesy of a well-placed Hutchison source, Lai See must admit a small measure of disappointment. That's because when first reporting Mr Sixt's daring pledge in August, we looked forward to the inauguration of a new Frank 'Chrome Dome' 3G Subscriber Index run on inverse principles: more subscribers corresponding to less hair and vice versa. Yet Mr Sixt's new look stops rather short of a true crew-cut like Mr Li's. Lai See understands that Mr Sixt's more streamlined hair helmet can be ascribed to a side-bet with Vincenzo Novari, chief executive of Hutchison's Italian operations, on whether 3 Italia would break the 2.5 million subscriber mark by year-end. Yesterday, Hutchison said the company counts 2.6 million subscribers across the country. link spoils the market for reits Politics, as they say, can make for strange bed-fellows. Yesterday, legislator Albert Cheng Kin-hon's charge that the government's ill-fated Link Reit had been priced too cheaply seemed to receive some support - albeit probably unintentional - from an unexpected quarter. 'Show me how many property investors in Hong Kong could get a rental yield of 7 per cent?' asked Hutchison managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning, referring to the Link's generous investor pay-out. He noted that Hutchison had received several proposals to package its huge property portfolio into a real estate investment trust, but declined after estimating it could at best offer investors a yield of no more than 2 per cent - far below market expectations after what the Link had promised. rewarding poor performance It's nothing if not a Merry Christmas for 50 managers at Comba Telecom, a mainland mobile communication systems provider. On Wednesday, chairman Fok Tung-ling announced he was gifting 19.2 million shares, or about 2.3 per cent of issued shares, to senior management. With Comba shares trading at $3.50, that's a $67 million present or more than $1 million per manager. According to Mr Fok, the generosity will strengthen staff commitment and dedication, and help drive the group to new heights. Good objective that, considering Comba shares have trailed the market badly and fallen 6 per cent this year. Other firms, of course, reward good performance - rather than just the promise of it gem publisher is salary shy It's a much different story, however, at Sing Pao publisher Leadership Publishing Group, where staff are not even sure if their December salary will arrive on time. The loss-making media group did not deliver November pay cheques until the first week of this month, and missed its rent for three months running. Shares of the Growth Enterprise Market firm were suspended after its landlord filed a court writ for indemnity. merry christmas, mr forbes One of Lai See's colleagues is proud to have been on media tycoon Steve Forbes' Christmas card list for three years running. This year's card, however, was slightly different from the previous two: Mr Forbes did not personally sign it. Another colleague, a Boston Red Sox fan who interviewed Mr Forbes for a Monday Face column earlier this year, apparently made the mistake of speaking rudely about the publisher's beloved but alas choke-prone New York Yankees. He did not receive a Christmas card. No doubt a harmless oversight in both instances. Lai See wishes Mr Forbes and all our readers a peaceful and joyful Christmas, and looks forward to seeing you again after the holiday weekend.