Obama remark breeds fear and loathing for Las Vegas United States President Barack Obama earned a lot of plaudits for his stinging criticism of the behaviour of his country's bankers, but not from casino tycoon Steve Wynn. During a conference call for Wynn Resorts investors yesterday, he took a swipe at his commander-in-chief for hurting his business in Las Vegas. Two weeks ago Mr Obama said he could not tolerate lavish corporate junkets in which loss-making bankers swan around casinos in Las Vegas. Mr Wynn said he was sure the president did not mean to stigmatise the convention and meeting business of Las Vegas when it was conducted by companies that were not on the government dole, but the speech had cost him big time. He said he lost US$5 billion worth of business from one company 'that was as far away from needing help from Uncle Sam as you can get, but the chairman decided he wanted to avoid any appearance of profligacy'. 'If this kind of rhetoric is not very enlightened and very sophisticated, it can lead to an unintended consequence, like the cancellation of a wonderful company's educational forum, where they teach salesmen new programmes. They need to go somewhere to do that. Las Vegas was the cheapest place for them to go.' When another analyst asked about cost cutting, Mr Wynn fired another shot at the administration. 'I don't mean to go on ... but the political leadership from Washington was completely lacking in the first US$350 billion or US$400 billion they spent last year. So, that money went down the drain and didn't produce the kind of result it was supposed to,' he said. 'Theoretically there was supposed to be some smart people on the job paying attention to this, like the Secretary of the Treasury and people like that, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs.' We are not sure if the trashing of Las Vegas will stop, but we are pretty sure what Mr Obama's choice of hotels will be if he ever comes to Macau. Change of heart What a difference a day makes. Just 24 hours after Manulife Financial Corp denied speculation that it was about to issue common shares to strengthen its balance sheet, saying it remained well capitalised despite the sharp drop in its share price in Canada and Hong Kong, it turned around and announced that it would be raising C$275 million (HK$1.71 billion) through the issue of preferred shares. This week, Manulife, which soared to HK$360 in the halcyon days of 2007, became the last company on the Hong Kong stock exchange to fall from three figures. Yesterday it slipped a further 2.86 per cent to HK$90.50. Where clouds are far behind There's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow - at least that's what Sichuan Expressway seems to be implying with the picture on the front cover of its latest annual report (above). After a very difficult year, chairman Tang Yong says in an emotional message to shareholders that the company has recorded steady growth, with support from all walks of life and the unrelenting effort of the staff in the face of numerous difficulties and challenges. '2008 was unforgettable for every soul in Sichuan, bringing both pain and motivation for those who have experienced the tragedies of the year when we were hit by unprecedented snowstorms and the magnitude 8 earthquake that shocked the world. 'The disasters revealed the love within our fellow countrymen.' 00000ps, says UBS Zero tolerance took on a new meaning at the Tokyo stock exchange yesterday when the Japanese brokerage unit of Swiss bank UBS placed an order for 3 trillion yen (HK$240 billion) of convertible bonds from video-game maker Capcom. As the bond was worth only 15 billion yen when the company issued it eight years ago, it was soon obvious something was amiss. Oops, UBS said, the transaction should only have been for 30 million yen, and swiftly cancelled it with the blessing of the stock exchange, which said the error had caused little impact. The brokerage blamed that old favourite, the computer glitch, for adding a bunch of zeros to the order.