bankers do a little homework as city braces for violent wto protests Monetary boss Joseph Yam Chi-kwong has set the city's bankers a little task this month - they have to come up with contingency plans in the event of an impromptu bank holiday. It is not because Hong Kong is about to be given another public day off. It is in case the city is engulfed in riots when it hosts the sixth World Trade Organisation ministerial conference in December and the banks are forced to close. For those like Lai See who were born after the 1960s, recollections of major protests in Hong Kong are nothing but peaceful, like the July 1 march by half a million people two years ago. But anti-globalisation protesters are a different breed. Bloody scenes in Seattle in 1999, when up to 100,000 demonstrators battled police outside the third WTO ministerial conference venue, resulting in more than 500 arrests, still give security authorities worldwide nightmares. A Hong Kong Monetary Authority spokesman told us they were simply asking banks to plan for all contingencies. But do not be surprised if there is a rush of bankers to the shops to buy up books on Hong Kong's riots of 1967 before they complete their homework for Mr Yam. cathay feels oil pinch Brace yourselves for another fuel surcharge from Cathay Pacific. And if what chief executive Philip Chen Nan-lok said in the latest edition of the airline's CX World in-house magazine is anything to go by, it is going to be a big one. Complaining about how painful it is to run an airline in a surging oil era, Mr Chen said on April 4, Cathay had a passenger load seven times that of May 13, 2003 - its darkest day during Sars - yet on both occasions it incurred a daily loss of $25 million. In the wake of a loss-making May and a barely break-even June, chief operating officer Tony Tyler is heading a group to find ways to cut costs. Cathay made $1.67 billion in the first half, down only 5.7 per cent year on year, but its fuel costs shot up 77 per cent to $6.6 billion - and that was before oil surged to US$70 a barrel. present woes cloud future Troubled white goods manufacturer Guangdong Kelon caused a few splutters yesterday when it presented its interim report to shareholders with a front-page message: 'Set for a brighter future.' So much for being positive, but the 164-page document was full of references to the auditor's inability to ascertain if the figures in the financial statement were correct, as well as pages listing the 39 lawsuits filed by several banks. The report concluded that Kelon had a short-term loan of $2.43 billion yuan, of which $240 million was overdue. It is hard to see the sun for all those clouds. update from the spin doctors What do Hong Kong's investment bank spin doctors have in common? A shadowy Wednesday night gathering of about 40 bank PR staff in a Central restaurant apparently did not cook up a heinous plot against the public interest (at least, that was the spin). But it did reveal that a good 33 per cent of the participants had apprenticed at this newspaper. Hot topics inevitably were on job movements, with Merrill Lynch having this week lured Bloomberg finance team heavyweight Rob Stewart to spruce up its Asian communications effort. Credit Suisse First Boston is also in the market for a new flak due to the fabulous and frenetic Liz Rudall heading for the Melbourne suburbs. Lai See hears another ex-SCMP staffer, spinning at another big bank, is set to get the nod. rights challenge Most shareholders do not like rights issues, but it is not often that someone challenges one in court. Alfred Leung Cheuk-wah, a 1 per cent Unity Investment Holding shareholder, has done just that, filing a summons to suspend the proposed $50.5 million rights issue next Tuesday. Unity described Mr Leung' action as misconceived, frivolous and totally groundless. With the possibility of the rights issue being aborted, Unity shares rose 35 per cent yesterday. We are booking a ringside seat for this one.