Corriente deal fuels surge in Canadian mining stocks The acquisition of Canadian mining company Corriente Resources by the mainland's Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Holdings and China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC) for US$653 million has set Vancouver mining stocks rocking. Corriente owns a significant swathe of the Corriente copper belt in Ecuador. Canadian resources companies have already witnessed a spate of takeover by mainland companies eager to take control of resources to feed their booming economy back home. Since the bonanza appears to be continuing, exotically named companies such as Guyana Goldfields have jumped appreciably in the hope that they too will become the target of a Chinese resources company. You may well ask why a railway company should want to buy a copper mine. The answer apparently is that building railways is a relatively low-margin business while mining offers high rewards due to the high risks involved. CRCC, however, remains enthusiastic as to the company's prospects and the stock has jumped 2 per cent since the deal was announced. Maybe they haven't heard the joke that a copper mine is a hole in the ground with a liar sitting on top. Centaline boss makes amends The back office staff at Centaline Properties, one of the biggest real estate agencies in Hong Kong, have got off to a cracking start in 2010. They have been paid a seven-month bonus which is considerably better than the one-month bonus they received at the end of 2008. But 2009 has been a good year for the industry with transactions for all property sectors totalling HK$516.3 billion, making it the second best year since 1997 when transactions totalled HK$868 billion. The best year since 1997 was 2007 when transactions totalled HK$534 billion. Let's hope this year's bonus payment is not another rash move by Centaline boss Shih Wing-ching (above). In 2008 he closed five branches and sacked 300 staff in a move he admitted earlier this year was a mistake. AIA's brand-new pitch American International Assurance (AIA) has launched a new advertising campaign, 'The Power of We', an imaginative take on Bryce Courtenay's influential book The Power of One. The campaign follows hard on the heels of 'We are Asia' which ran through the second half of last year. 'The Power of We', according to a company statement, 'underscores AIA's absolute customer focus and the critical importance of the AIA employees, its agents and its other distribution partners to AIA's continuing success'. However, we feel that the latest high-powered campaign also has an eye on the company's initial public offering later this year. Readers will recall that AIG, AIA's parent, collapsed spectacularly at the end of 2008 and had to be bailed out with a US$180 billion injection from the US government. The Asian arm was ring-fenced from that debacle but is now expected to play its part in rescuing the parent. The share offering is expected to raise between US$10 billion and US$20 billion, much of which will go towards repaying the US government. Can't beat the power of the IPO. Back at work Good to see that Betty Yuen So Siu-mai, the former managing director of CLP Group, has recovered from breast cancer and is aiming to be back at work in a few weeks. She'll be working on a part-time basis as vice-chairman of CLP Power Hong Kong, keeping an eye on the strategic direction of the group's Hong Kong electricity business. She will also continue to serve as chairman of Hong Kong Nuclear Investment Company, an investment arm that is responsible for the group's nuclear business on the mainland. Meanwhile, Andrew Lancaster, who took over as acting managing director while Yuen was having medical treatment, takes over the job on a permanent basis. High-speed credit card ICBC (Asia) is launching a dual-currency credit card. In a statement the company proudly announces that Guangshen Railway Dual Currency Credit Card, its full title, is the first Hong Kong credit card to use the theme of the Guanshen railway. This may well be true, although we are uncertain how many other companies are lining up to identify their financial products with what some cynics think will be a white elephant. The railway, at a cost of HK$65 billion, will be the most expensive in the world in terms of dollars per kilometre. But we all know it's far more important to be part of the mainland's railway network than to waste this sort of money on Hong Kong's pensioners. ICBC seems uncertain that today's ceremony will attract the press so it has felt obliged to announce that all journalists attending the event will receive a souvenir.