800 Lehman staff find new employer upstairs In the end, it turned out to be quite a swift and painless rescue as Japan's top brokerage Nomura scooped up Lehman Brothers' Asian operation yesterday, ending a week of job uncertainty for about 800 Hong Kong employees. Nomura is reported to be paying US$225 million for part of the bankrupt US investment bank which has about 3,000 staff in the region, half of them based in Tokyo. A double bonus for the Hong Kong staff is that they are likely to be staying in IFC Two where Lehman has five floors with its reception on the 26th, only three floors below Nomura and fortunately both firms share the same lift. Although it is still unclear how Nomura will honour existing Lehman contracts or how the Japanese who do not have a culture for lay-offs, will consolidate their overlapping equity and investment banking businesses, it is a huge relief for the Hong Kong brothers and sisters. 'Let's just say I feel much better today than last Monday,' said one staffer who spent the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday watching the US financial meltdown and scanning the newspaper classifieds for job opportunities. But while Lehman's staff are looking forward to adapting to the sushi menu, it might not be so easy for reporters. Lai See rang the Nomura Hong Kong office twice yesterday for some simple fact checking but the corporate communications lady insisted we send an e-mail and address it to a male subordinate. Perhaps we should have rung someone at Lehman and asked them to nip upstairs with the query on our behalf. Show goes on as usual Crisis! What crisis? CLSA kicked off its 15th annual Investors' Forum in the wake of the financial tsunami yesterday with more than 1,000 participants at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, much the same as usual. The brokerage firm reported about 150 dropouts which was about the average of previous years. Former Walt Disney chief executive Michael Eisner was flown in to speak at a closed-door lunch meeting on creative economy on the first of the five-day talk-fest. We wonder if he got any insights from Henry Paulson or Ben Bernanke before setting off. Opportunity in every tragedy In the wake of every tragedy - natural or man-made - there are always businesses that benefit. Vitasoy International Holdings shares jumped as much as 17.61 per cent yesterday before closing at a record HK$3.99, making it the only Hong Kong-listed company currently at a historic high. The surge was prompted by news that the locally based soya milk producer is now supplying Starbucks on the mainland in the wake of the poisoned milk powder scandal. The big three mainland milk producers, Mengniu Dairy, Yili and Bright Dairy, have all been found to have products contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine that can cause kidney failure and has resulted in four deaths and more than 53,000 children being taken ill. As businesses look for alternatives, Vitasoy has scored because it has only two small operations on the mainland, with most of its goods being produced in Hong Kong. Towers give index vertigo If you want to know when the stock market is going to crash, just look up. A reader pointed out that every time a huge tower is completed in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index heads south. His theory is based on the completion of Cheung Kong Center which coincided with the Asian financial crisis in 1998, ditto IFC Two during Sars-plagued 2003. Today's market malaise has arrived as the new tallest tower in town, West Kowloon's ICC, gears up to take its first tenants. If this skyscraper theory is any kind of guide, punters may want to think twice before getting back into the market any time soon. Wharf (Holdings) has plans to turn its Ocean Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui into a 96-storey building, while New World Development has a 90-storey hotel project in the pipeline a bit further along the harbour front. And, of course, looming in the background there is Sir Gordon Wu's MegaTower, sorry, that's Hopewell Centre 2, in Wan Chai.