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Lai See

Ben Kwok

HSBC's mainland and Korean crooners may pull a surprise

If your boss likes singing, you'll know how to sing well.

The HSBC Singing Contest 2007 is to be held this month at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium, audience capacity 2,000-plus, in the presence of Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corp chairman Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen, well known for his karaoke skills.

More than 200 HSBC staff joined in the first round of the singing contest, competing to be among the 12 locals to be chosen for what could be Hong Kong's biggest corporate music event.

They will join eight other HSBC employees in showing off their singing talent in the last weekend of September, with six coming from the mainland and Macau and one each from Taiwan and Brunei.

According to an insider, HSBC's singing roots can be dated back about 20 years to when the in-house band Wayfoong Rock made its debut. Since then, the contest is held every two years, organised by the Wayfoong Sports Club committee.


It was not until recent years that entrance tickets to watch the singing contest became such hot items that the club decided to allocate them by ballot in much the same way as an IPO is handled. The proceeds from the HK$20 tickets will go to Hong Kong Community Chest.

As a mirror to the world economy, watch out for the rise of mainland singers at HSBC. It is likely that some South Korean performers (possibly from Korea Exchange Bank) will join the big party. Given its popularity, the next venue could be the much-larger Hong Kong Coliseum.

Geoghegan doing a Madonna

We have reason to believe HSBC Holdings chief executive Michael Geoghegan could be busier than Madonna in her heyday.


Two weeks ago, Mr Geoghegan embarked on his own roadshow to 27 countries to meet his managers, starting with Buenos Aires and taking in Sao Paulo and London. He will stop by briefly in Hong Kong tomorrow morning and Beijing tomorrow evening, before flying to Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur and ending the trip in Sydney on September 11.

In Hong Kong, a group of about 1,000 HSBC managers will go to AsiaWorld-Expo to listen to Mr Geoghegan lecture on his favourite subject, 'Think Joined Up' and to get a piece of his mind on global banking.


Nepal Air takes spiritual tack

Don't blame the goat - but kill it.

That appeared to be how Nepal Airlines reacted after its two international aircraft were grounded last month due to technical problems.


The carrier took a spiritual approach by sacrificing two goats in front of the plane in Kathmandu (the other one was in Brunei) to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu god of sky protection. It worked. Or rather the airline liked to believe so. After the death of the goats, one aircraft managed a flight to Hong Kong over the weekend.

Jumping on China bandwagon

Amid the continuing mainland stock fever, many companies have added 'China' to their registered name to reflect their identity and focus. In Hong Kong, 88 listed companies are traded with their name beginning with China.


But none has yet to top South China Industries (stock code 413). (It is often confused with this newspaper, an unrelated business.)

The company, owned by businessman Robert Ng Hung-sang, will officially change its trading name to South China (China) today.

The shares of have gained 245 per cent so far this year. Not bad even for a China concept stock.

Tung Chee-hwa dons the toga

There is something special for former HKSAR chief executive Tung Chee-hwa to look forward to when the new academic year begins.

Mr Tung has agreed to sponsor the establishment of Peking University's American International Relations Scholars programme this autumn. The programme is aimed at promoting academic exchanges between the mainland and the United States, inspire creative thinking, enrich mutual understanding and further mutual co-operation.

Applicants should be researchers, preferably with a PhD degree and aged no more than 60. They will be given a monthly stipend of US$2,000 and a round-trip economy class air ticket.