RBS rebranding campaign hits administrative faux pas In such a sensitive period financially, when rumours circulated by mobile-telephone text messages can set off a bank run, the Royal Bank of Scotland would have had nobody to blame but itself if things had turned sour last week. In a letter sent out to keep 'valued customers' in Hong Kong up to date with the rebranding exercise since taking over ABN Amro, the bank said its total assets as of December 31 last year were Euro2.4 billion (HK$11.17 billion). This was swiftly followed by another letter to say the original figure should have been Euro2.4 trillion - 1,000 times more. 'We apologise for any confusion caused by this administrative error,' said the letter. Administrative error? We normally call them typos. Whatever, luckily for RBS, which has been advertising its new corporate identity all over town lately, the slip was only made in Hong Kong or there could have been a few queues forming in Edinburgh. Lost in non-translation Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah seemed to be striking a blow for mother-tongue teaching yesterday when he held a press conference to set the scene for the Hong Kong Monetary Authority's announcement of temporary measures to increase liquidity in the banking sector. The Ivy League-graduated minister twice turned down questions from English media during his stand-up briefing, first saying 'I am not going to repeat that in English' and later 'I don't have the prepared transcript in English'. Not the sort of responses you want to hear from an official of a city that likes to call itself an international financial centre. Mr Tsang is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, and in between managed to pick up a master's degree in bilingual education from Boston State College. Collateral humour At least banking boss Joseph Yam Chi-kwong managed to introduce a bit of humour to the current financial plight, albeit not entirely original. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief's five-point plan to increase assistance to the city's banks includes a measure allowing them to use mortgages as collateral, but that does not include CDOs (collaterised debt obligations). 'No, CDOs will not be accepted,' he said in reply to a question, adding: 'I hate alphabet soup' - a sentiment he expressed in a recent newsletter. A timely ritual Ten years ago, in the middle of the Asian financial crisis, one of the leading figures in the Buddhist world came to Hong Kong to perform an empowerment, or initiation ceremony. We're sure it's just a coincidence, but Khenpo Thrangu Rinpoche will be back again next week to carry out a similar ritual for the Tsim Sha Tsui Kai Fong Association which has more than 2,000 followers. Supporters of the 75-year-old scholar, the ninth incarnation of Thrangu Rinpoche who is tasked with preserving the teachings of 1,000 years of Buddhism, said he was particularly good at purifying people troubled with greed and fear. Shelter from perfect storm Launching an initial public offering in the current market climate would seem like a foolhardy thing to do. Or is it? Renhe Commercial Holdings is definitely bucking the trend by trying to raise more than HK$5 billion as the only new stock offering on the radar at the start of the fourth quarter. Its lunch presentation at the Four Seasons Hotel on Monday was packed with more than 200 fund managers, but then again it was probably the only entry they had been able to put in their diaries for the past couple of weeks. Many analysts have dismissed the second biggest offering to come to market so far this year, with one going so far as to say he wasn't even interested to learn what Renhe does. He could live to regret that decision as the company is perfectly suited to the current economic climate - it builds bomb shelters. Renhe is the mainland's largest private developer of civil air defence shelters which it uses as underground shopping centres 'during peace time', according to its prospectus. And with everyone looking for a place to hide at the moment, Renhe's brand name of 'The First Tunnel' could provide the perfect haven.