STAR TV employees have been returning bronzed from their winter holidays. Holidays that came courtesy of that renowned Hong Kong philanthropist Richard Li, the former boss of STAR TV. The STAR TV sale earned a fortune for his father and, many would say, Mr Li's corporate spurs. It seems the son just wanted to say a big thank you to his hard working staff. The largesse, extended to all employees of STAR, included flights and accommodation at a top resort in the region. Any grudges that may have been harboured against the former enfant terrible of the media world seem to have been lifted and Mr Li is said to have a special place in the hearts of all his former employees this Christmas. CHRISTMAS may be a time for winding down and quiet reflection but the war for the best talent in the finance industry continues. Big spending securities houses from the United States have been providing plenty of merriment for stock brokers and bankers this Christmas, and that would apparently extend to Mr Kenneth Koo, head of the China listing division at the stock exchange. Mr Koo, who has been credited with driving the H-share listing process this year, has apparently been made an offer he couldn't refuse by Goldman Sachs. Sources say the hard-hitting star of the exchange will be leaving for the US investment bank next year. Mr Koo is a lawyer who has an address book filled with some of the best contacts in China. Goldman Sachs needs a replacement to head up its China Investment banking team. Mr Liu Erh-fei, who had been doing the job, jumped ship for rival Smith Barney Shearson. THE Guangzhou state government will be granting long leases to property developers who intend to build on the areas around its new mass transit railway system. By leasing the sites to developers, rather than selling them, the Guangzhou government will circumvent the need to make large transaction payments to the central government. The move comes at a time when Beijing has been talking tough about extending its tax base and tapping the cash-rich provinces for what it considers their fair share of the national tax take. For developers working in China, land purchase costs form a small fraction of the total project cost when compared to Hong Kong, but the security of a freehold is what most would prefer.