Lai See

Ben Kwok

SIR Gordon proves as good as his word as he shows philanthropy's not dead...

What could be worse than giving away your top dollar only to find out that it may be all you have?

Ask Sir Gordon Wu Ying-sheung. In 1995, the maverick billionaire decided to donate US$100 million to his alma mater, Princeton University, in what was then the largest US academic donation by a foreign-based alumnus.

Two years later, Sir Gordon's flagship Hopewell Holdings was on the brink of collapse after the Asian financial crisis. Sir Gordon was down to his last US$100 million, and had to reschedule his payments.

Despite his misfortune, Sir Gordon assured Princeton he would make his payment, set at US$20 million in five instalments over 10 years.

According to his authorised biography, The Man Who Turned the Lights On: Gordon Wu, he has caught up with his schedule as Hopewell has recovered and will make his last payment by June 2008, in time for his batch's 50th reunion.

We'll leave the last word to Sir Gordon: about his brand of philanthropy: 'You come, you live, you go - and along the way you try and help a few people in need. I feel good helping people. Doesn't everybody?'

... and democracy has a long gestation

Some may say Sir Gordon is very vocal and sometimes even anti-government, but few actually think he is very democratic.

Days before the 1997 Hong Kong handover he said: 'I am a democrat - I even named my son Thomas Jefferson - but it has to be remembered that even in the US, true democracy and full civil liberties did not happen overnight.

'It took a hundred years from the penning of the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson, that declared all men are created equal, to the civil war to abolish slavery ... Hong Kong, as part of China, will continue to move towards democracy, but just not at the pace the west expects. You have to have a mature political party system, and that will take time.'

Nine years later, Beijing's stance has proved Sir Gordon correct.

toil and trouble

From property speculation to dotcoms and later Macau fever, one may wonder what's on the mind of Wong Kwan, dubbed - perhaps unfairly - the chef of local stock market bubbles.

This time, we've learned Mr Wong wants a comeback via the logistics trade by taking control of China Merchants Dichain with a management team including Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim as an independent non-executive director.

Which makes us wonder: Is it time to sell Malaysian stocks?

the long and the short of it

Courtesy of the Roland Report (, we are happy to share this insight on how the Tung family's Orient Overseas International Ltd (OOIL) benefits from falling oil prices.

Yesterday's 4.7 per cent bounce in its share price, to $31.15, shows just how risky it is to bet against the current market. The firm has attracted scores of shorts, and with good reason. It has all the makings of a stock perfectly pitched for a correction: it is reliant on Chinese exports, which may get whacked if Beijing hikes the yuan; it is sensitive to oil prices; and due to its new mainland property holdings, it could be hit by austerity measures.

It also has a few good things going for it - a high yield, a steep discount on asset value, and potential upside in its China property and ports.

CLSA recently noted that OOIL is a top short now and recommended that bears set their stop-losses on the stock at the $31 to $32 level. But we hear many hedge funds have set their stop-losses at $30 which helps explain the bounce.

Perhaps investors should stick with Roland's current rule of thumb for shorting China stocks: wait until the Bank of China listing gets out the door. Nothing too bad will happen before then.