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Lai See

Ben Kwok

li scotches amateur medics' rumours faster than a speeding bullet

Hong Kong punters selling on rumours of Li Ka-shing's deteriorating health be warned: Superman is as healthy as ever.

Though quickly dismissed by Mr Li's son Victor, malicious gossip about the tycoon's fitness contributed to last week's 6 per cent fall in Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong (Holdings) shares. Given a quick check-up by journalists covering his firms' results briefing yesterday evening, Superman was expansive.

'No [health] problem,' Mr Li said brightly. 'I played golf at 6.15 today, arrived at the office at eight and worked [all day]. I absolutely have not thought of a succession plan.'


Superman has, however, given some thought to the only thing he fears more than kryptonite these days - 3G losses.

'If our 3G losses continue to go up, I can guarantee these two guys [indicating Victor and Hutchison Whampoa managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning] will face a cut in their bonuses,' he said.


Asked by journalists if he would take his granddaughters to Hong Kong Disneyland when it opens, Mr Li quipped: 'Only if you don't take pictures.' Sorry girls, but it looks like yeh-yeh won't be taking you to the Magic Kingdom.

Yam poses a weighty question

As Hong Kong schoolkids brace themselves for summer's end, Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Joseph Yam Chi-kwong is getting into the back-to-school spirit.

Mr Yam yesterday released his annual end-of-summer quiz, with eight questions. Here is question No1:

'If we were able to convert all of the Exchange Fund assets (at the end of June 2005) to $1 coins, what would the weight be? (Hint: each $1 coin weighs 7.1g. One tonne equals 1,000 kg.)'

(a) 7.5 million tonnes

(b) 8.5 million tonnes

(c) 9.5 million tonnes

Lai See's bonus hint: Exchange Fund assets totalled $1.058 trillion at the end of June.

Any smarty-pants out there who can answer this and Mr Yam's other questions should e-mail their answers to [email protected] before September 25. In return they could win a riveting read: Money and Banking: a historical timeline.

do they jump or are they pushed?

Speaking of quizzes, here's another one, care of our northern cousins.

Q: How many chief executives at listed mainland companies have resigned in the first half?

A: 176, or 12.7 per cent, according to the Shanghai National Business Daily.

About one-third of executive departures were related to alleged economic crimes, although only 17 per cent of firms disclosed as much at the time of their chief's dismissal.

Another 15 per cent of mainland chiefs were sacked due to disappointing results, although face-saving excuses, including 'voluntary resignation', were usually cited.

smooth operator

Dickson Concepts (International) chairman Dickson Poon was clearly in a relaxed mood at his company's results briefing yesterday.

A sharp-eyed woman colleague tells us that Mr Poon had not one, not two, but three shirt buttons unfastened, revealing a fashionably hairless chest.

Obviously in a good mood after the briefing Mr Poon stayed on for an additional 20 minutes to chat about Harvey Nichols' upcoming Hong Kong opening and Dickson's expansion plans for China.

better late than never

While mainland firms usually treat employees to bonuses at Lunar New Year, Shanghai Commercial Bank yesterday announced it had given its 1,300 staff an average mid-year raise of 4 per cent and handed out three-month bonuses.

Not only is that better than the average 2 per cent salary increase and two-month bonuses extended by mainland banks this year, but Shanghai Commercial Bank is also looking to hire 100 more people. Any takers?