AIG's move back to the future can't prevent that sinking feeling Long gone are the days when Central's waterfront might remind you of Venice - although, to see what is happening now, it's still enough to induce that sinking feeling. We were inspired to dredge up this old photograph of Connaught Road 70 years ago by the news that AIG is moving into its new HQ on the site of the former Furama hotel. But long before the Furama was built in the 1960s, the site was home to an elegant, five-storey office block that housed Asia Insurance, which is now a subsidiary of AIG. It has taken AIG 36 years and several billions to return to its roots. In 2000, it co-acquired the Furama hotel site with Singapore's Pidemco for $1.88 billion, later raising its stake to 90 per cent. Lai Sun Development still retains 10 per cent. 'It was the location of our first office in Hong Kong, which was established in the 1930s, and we are proud to be returning to our original home,' senior vice-chairman Edmund Tse Sze-wing said. Shame it doesn't still look like the original. long arm of the law, short memory You may think that if someone appears on a wanted poster, the authorities are having a hard job getting their hands on them. Well, think again. Last week, the ICAC posted former Shanghai Land Holdings chairman Chau Ching-ngai (alias Zhou Zhengyi) on its newly wanted list, complete with his date of birth, occupation, hair colour, eye colour and ID number. The case brief read: 'Chau is wanted on suspicion of having conspired with others to defraud the shareholders of a publicly listed company in Hong Kong. The conspiracy, which took place between October 2001 and May 2003, was in relation to the shareholders being fraudulently induced to accept a reduced acquisition price offered by Chau and his co-conspirators for the takeover of the listed company.' The last we heard Chau was doing three years in a Shanghai jail for stock manipulation and for falsifying registered capital. Too bad the ICAC wasn't offering a reward for information about his whereabouts. up, up and away You've got to hand it to Sir Gordon Wu Ying-sheung. He certainly knows how to treat the staff. The Hopewell Holdings chairman has awarded himself an 11 per cent salary increase. Bonuses bring his earnings to $5.1 million after his firm's profits rose to $1.66 billion this year. But his managing director - son Thomas Jefferson - got 15 per cent, taking his package to $3.28 million. And his right-hand man, vice-chairman Eddy Ho Ping-chan, fared even better with a 16 per cent rise to $3.53 million. But those increases pale next to the 100 per cent raise awarded by the board of Guoco Group to chief executive Kwek Leng Hai. According to the company's annual report released yesterday, Mr Kwek's package was worth $4.43 million after the company recorded a 32 per cent increase in profits to $3.23 billion last year. beauty and the beast We know it's not fair, but whenever anyone mentions the Metropole Hotel, all we can think about is the spookily numbered room 911, where the Sars outbreak started in 2003. So we feel inclined to give the Waterloo Road establishment a mention for playing host to something much nicer. The hotel will be home to the 18 gorgeous girls who will be taking part in this year's Miss Asia Beauty Pageant on October 4.