Forget about futures, cash in on the AIDS boom

THERE'S a squad of AIDS experts in town with a horrifying message for local business: the disease doesn't just kill people - it costs money.

That was one of the messages that came out of yesterday's conference called Asian Business Responds to AIDS 1994, and organised by insurance firm Aetna.

Dr Michael Merson, executive director of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) global programme on AIDS, said things like: ''When you have so many people dying in the prime of their life, it has a dramatic effect on consumer markets and purchasing powerin general.'' One wag asked what businesses were benefiting from AIDS.

''Funeral parlours? Hospitals?'' was the guess by one AIDS expert. Another ventured: ''Condom makers - I hope.'' WHO reckons that in Asia, tycoons often have more power than prime ministers, so by presenting AIDS as an economic issue they might be able to get the business sector involved - and the sooner the better.

Some chance. These AIDS experts are expecting Hong Kong business people to think years ahead.

Most local managers haven't even got contingency plans if China loses MFN, and that could be just six weeks away.

Overboard A TEACHER at one of our senior education institutes gave an English-language class the task of giving a brief verbal description of any common process.

Most chose dull stuff like ''frying an egg'' or ''washing your hair''.

Everyone sat bolt upright when one chose ''rigging a sale''.

Unfortunately, this turned out not to be a revelation about the property business, but a pupil who spends the weekends yachting.

Giving face WE bumped into the regional bosses of film and photo firm Kodak yesterday, and were very impressed by their business cards. They had the person's photo on them.

Not only that, but they were rather nice, smiling shots.

Very unnatural. We've smudged them about a bit and used a felt-tip pen to put big red blobs in the eyes.

Now they look like real photographs - like Lai See holiday snaps.

Image-built GREAT day yesterday for MKI Corp and its associate Chesterfield, both of which turned up in the list of top 10 rising stocks.

Maybe it's because MKI has commissioned local PR firm Hill & Knowlton to raise its public profile, and has been dropping hints about forthcoming announcements in China.

They have also got a new shareholder in the shape of His Excellency Khundkar Khalid Ahmed Hossain, who has been invited onto the board.

Sadly, both cigar-smoking chairman David Tang and Hill & Knowlton seemed a bit hazy on who this chap was when we rang them earlier this week.

Quick step OTHER MKI-related news concerns its ex-chairman Arthur Lai Cheuk-kwan, who remains not exactly unknown around its offices.

Arthur is on the receiving end of a lawsuit from his old firm, Standard Chartered Securities, who alleged in a writ filed last April that he and some associates had helped themselves to commission payments worth $40 million that really belonged to the firm.

Arthur has firmly denied the allegations.

The current reckoning is that a court hearing may take place as early as October or November.

This is amazingly fast - after all, Wheelock Maritime went into voluntary liquidation in 1985, and a case arising from this is expected to reach court next year.

Quick flick THERE'S a lot of fast-paced action in the thriller On Deadly Ground, showing in the Park Theatre in Tin Hau.

However, after watching 30 minutes of the film with his girlfriend, Alan Sporn, who works in Mody Road, realised that it was a little too fast-paced.

The bodies were flying through the air with extraordinary speed.

Alan said: ''Throughout the entire movie, Steven Seagal sounded as if he had had an operation on his testicles, as his voice was at a much higher pitch than usual.'' He reckons the projector must have been running too fast, an allegation at first denied by the management.

However, they subsequently said their projector may need maintenance and have offered two complimentary tickets.

Given that some of the local cinema managers are complaining that Schindler's List is uneconomic because it's too long, here's an obvious solution: speed up the projector and rename it Schindler's Shortlist.