Asia world's city a complex issue for HK officials To Renaissance Capital's 1st Annual Emerging Markets Investor Conference where Hong Kong's financial top brass were wheeled out, including Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing chairman Ronald Arculli. Tsang (pictured) kicked off with that now familiar and faintly silly mantra beloved by Hong Kong officials: 'Welcome to Hong Kong, Asia's world city'. Imagine if US officials were to greet delegations with 'Welcome to America, the world's most powerful country', or Angela Merkel, 'Welcome to Germany, Europe's richest economy', 'Welcome to Britain - home of the industrial revolution', 'Welcome to South Korea, the world's biggest producer of LCDs'. It gives the impression that Hong Kong has an embedded inferiority complex, the subtext is, 'We think we are up there, but we also think there is a chance you don't know that, so we are telling you.' The truth is that if you are up there, you don't need to tell people you are there - they know. That said, Tsang then went on extol Hong Kong's virtues as a financial centre and a place for doing business, although he wound up by urging his audience to 'shop a lot'. We were glad to see Arculli veering away from recent remarks by stock exchange officials on the size of the natural resources sector. Lai See has argued in the past that the exchange has wildly exaggerated the extent of the sector. However, Arculli yesterday simply said that about 250 companies were involved in the sector, of which 100 were 'pure plays'. There was no mention of the US$390 billion market cap - the size of the sector alleged by other officials. A welcome alignment with reality. Renaissance Capital, which is based in Moscow, specialises in emerging market economies. It recently opened an office in Hong Kong. But Steven Jennings, the chief executive of the Renaissance Group, has clearly been doing too much travelling recently. Welcoming his audience to the conference, he noted that 'we are meeting here today in New York', before correcting himself. Power play We understand that Oleg Deripaska's EuroSibEnergo has been given permission in principle to list and the company, together with its investment bankers BOC International and Deutsche Bank, started pre-marketing yesterday. EuroSibEnergo comprises the energy assets in EN+ Group, which are mostly hydro projects. The company supplies about 8 per cent of Russia's electricity supply. During the summer, Deripaska said the company was worth US$8 billion and that he was looking to raise US$2 billion from an initial public share offering. However, it has proved difficult to persuade investors to go along with this valuation and it has been reassessed at US$6 billion, resulting in a share sale of US$1.5 billion. One other wrinkle with this company is that its biggest customers are the smelters owned by aluminium company Rusal, of which 47 per cent is also owned by EN+ and controlled by Deripaska. So, if electricity prices are high, EuroSibEnergo prospers and Rusal suffers, and when they are low, the reverse occurs. But no doubt, these intricacies will all be explained in the prospectus. Another tantalising question is who, if anyone, is prepared to act as a cornerstone investor. Maybe Derpaska's chum Nat Rothschild can be persuaded, but having taken one hit for his pal over Rusal, which is still under water, he may not be so ready to take another just yet. On Wen to retire Premier Wen Jiabao was out and about in Macau at the weekend. We saw him on CCTV engaged in elaborate tai chi moves equipped with a souvenir fan. A woman in the crowd called out to ask if she could visit him. 'Yes of course,' Wen replied, 'but only after I retire - I'll meet you in Zhongnanhai - I'll have this fan with me.' This cheery exchange had us wondering about Wen's retirement since it seems to be the first time he has mentioned it. We wonder if his recent outspoken remarks in favour of political reform had brought his retirement day forward. Bollywood standard Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar was the main attraction at a Bollywood-themed ball organised by the Young Executives Group in Hong Kong recently. The extravaganza, which cost HK$200,000 and HK$100,000 per table, set what a press statement calls 'a new standard for charity galas in Hong Kong and Asia'. The upshot of this excess was that HK$3 million was raised for the Community Chest.