Bull of bulls sees light at the end of the tunnel Sino Land chairman Robert Ng Chee Siong is not known as the 'bull of bulls' for nothing. For every negative comment about the state of our economy in his interim report statement this week, we counted five times as many positive references about the future. Mr Ng said he was confident the United States administration would 'help alleviate the problems in the property market and protect the livelihoods of millions of US households', while the mainland and Hong Kong governments had 'proactively implemented economic stimulus packages aimed at restoring the confidence of businesses and individuals'. He continued in optimistic vein: '2009 will present challenges but it is believed that the situation will be manageable as nations have already responded decisively to restore confidence in financial systems, and collectively address problems ... 'The abrupt downturn has encouraged policymakers around the world to work together to improve their respective economies and infrastructure to prevent the current situation from recurring.' Mr Ng's upbeat view sets him apart from other property tycoons who handed out their report cards this week. But then it has to be said that Sino Land trumped bigger rivals Sun Hung Kai Properties, Henderson Land Development and New World Development by reporting less damaging interim results. Sino Land earnings were down 58 per cent, but it could be argued that they actually improved 12 per cent after excluding the mark-to-market property revaluations. Mr Ng (above), who has built a reputation for making generous bids at land auctions over the past decade, said he saw the local property market as fundamentally healthy with mortgage rates remaining low and favourable terms being offered to potential homebuyers. Although the residential property market has been suffering this year, he still found a positive spin, saying he was hopeful for the 'medium to long term'. We can't help wondering where he got his rose-tinted spectacles. Those were the days If you know anyone who works for Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, you should ask them to buy you a beer, because chances are they got a promotion last year. According to the HKEx annual report, the company promoted or redesignated 126 employees to senior positions last year. That's almost one in six of the exchange's 848 staff. The blue chip also gave a one-off two-week cash payment to junior-grade staff as a special measure to combat inflationary pressure. That probably accounts for the low staff turnover rate of 6.8 per cent, down from 10.4 per cent in 2007. But back to reality: This year the exchange has announced salary freezes, and so far we have not heard of any promotions. Picking up the pieces It's one of the oddest jobs in town, but someone has to do it. In this case it's a group of brokerages known as the 'odd lot' - specialists who will be working overtime on Monday when HSBC Holdings' very odd 5-for-12 rights issue begins trading in Hong Kong. Their job, working with banks and other brokerages, is to buy up odd lots of shares and group them into new board lots, which in HSBC's case come in batches of 400 shares, for trading in the market. For example, someone with 1,200 HSBC shares who is entitled to 500 more under the rights issue could become a target of the odd lot boys looking to buy the 'extra' 100 shares to start creating a new board lot of 400. Good luck, guys. With both barrels The quote of the week comes from US Republican senator Charles Grassley, who proposed the 90 per cent tax on bonuses paid to executives of AIG and other government bailout firms. 'The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better towards them is if they had followed the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say: 'I'm sorry', and then either do one of two things - resign or go commit suicide.'