Santa Lee delivers good news on pay rises early There's no better early Christmas present than hearing you are about to receive a bigger pay cheque. Henderson Land Development chairman Lee Shau-kee played Santa Claus yesterday when he broke the news that his company would resume pay rises with an average increase of 3 per cent for its 1,300 staff next year, while some 'super-performers' will get between 10 and 20 per cent. 'What about you? Do you have a pay rise?' asked Lee, who responded with a question to a reporter who had asked about the firm's compensation. 'I am sure you do ... and so will everyone in Hong Kong.' The pay rises come on the back of a strong rebound in equities and particularly properties - remember the notorious 68th floor Mid-Levels duplex Henderson sold for HK$88,000 per square foot - after a dismal 2008 when Lee ordered a general salary freeze and gave only a 1 per cent raise to the top achiever. The 3 per cent rise, we gather, is at the high-end among major property developers, most of whom proposed increases of between 2.2 per cent and 2.9 per cent next year. Unlike Lee, none of the Sun Hung Kai Properties chiefs had to field a question about pay rises at their post-annual general meeting briefing, but the firm later stated it would be increasing salaries before the Lunar New Year. Let's just hope Santa Lee's prediction comes true. Deaf to political overtures Lee can talk for hours about stocks and shares, but not when it comes to politics. Yesterday, when he was asked for his views on the pan-democratic lawmakers' plan to trigger a de facto referendum by resigning, he replied: 'Sorry, what did you say?' After the question was repeated, he said: 'You asked about politics. I am a businessman, and I have not done any research on it.' All's shipshape on the bridge SHK Properties vice-chairman Raymond Kwok Ping-luen (below) was asked if his firm had seen too many board members departing - independent non-executive directors Marvin Cheung Kin-tung and Chung Sze-yuen resigned this year. He shot back: 'We have not seen any board changes - in the executive director level.' It's an accurate statement. The trouble is, it's very hard to forget about the ousting of his elder brother and former chairman, Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, nearly two years ago. Fewer choose to eat cake More shareholders prefer dim sum to Four Seasons cakes if yesterday's annual meetings of Henderson Land and Sun Hung Kai Properties are anything to go by. Henderson Land began its annual meeting at the Four Seasons half an hour before the Sun Hung Kai Properties gathering at its headquarters in Wan Chai got under way. It must have been a tough call for investors holding both stocks over which one to attend for lunch. SHK Properties people saw a 20 per cent increase in the turnout with more than 200 people enjoying a dim sum lunch box from the company's Royal Plaza Hotel, while attendance by the Henderson Land cake eaters was down on last year's 250. Staying power wanes As he grows older the job spans are getting shorter. Twenty-three years at Cathay Pacific Airways, 11 years with Hongkong Telecom/PCCW, four years sabbatical and now Linus Cheung Wing-lam is reported to have resigned as chairman of Asia Television after just a year. We wonder where the 61-year-old blue-chip veteran will turn up next? A bagful of insight Earth-shattering research just in from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has shown that people wanting to tote a fake Louis Vuitton Le Radieux handbag or Rolex as the real deal should look the part. A study by Renee Richardson Gosline, an assistant professor of marketing at MIT's Sloan School of Management, showed that people are more likely to identify a designer handbag as authentic if the individual carrying it wears expensive clothes or has a certain aura that says 'rich person'. 'Counterfeits are really not serving as a substitute for the real thing at all,' said Gosline. 'Consumers are a lot smarter than we may give them credit for - just because you've got a nice fake doesn't mean you're going to get away with it.' For the record, Gosline is a former brand manager for LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton.