Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Design sketch of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge

This design sketch shows the man-made island of east tunnel of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge. China began construction of the world's longest cross-sea bridge linking its southern economic hub Guangdong Province to Hong Kong and Macao on Dec. 15, 2009. The Y-shaped Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge will have a total length of almost 50 km, of which about 35 km will be built over the sea. (Xinhua Photo)
Photo Gallery>>>

China begins construction of world's longest cross-sea bridge linking mainland, HK, Macao

Chinese vice premier Li Keqiang(C) attends the inauguration ceremony of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge, the world's longest cross-sea bridge, in Zhuhai, south China's Guangdong Province, on Dec. 15, 2009. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

ZHUHAI, Guangdong, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Construction of the world's longest cross-sea bridge linking China's southern economic hub of Guangdong Province to Hong Kong and Macao began Tuesday, a move widely expected to bring economic ties closer.

Starting from the Lantau Island in Hong Kong, the Y-shaped HongKong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge will have a total length of almost 50 km, of which about 35 km will be built over the sea, making it the longest cross-sea bridge in the world, said Zhu Yongling, an official in charge of the project construction. Full story


Architecture and Design's New Hot Spots: Hong Kong and Shenzhen

If some of architecture and design's biggest names seemed conspicuously absent from this month's Art Basel Miami Beach--that annual, must-attend conclave for the glitzy-arty set--it was because they were halfway around the world in the adjacent Chinese cities of Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Why, you ask? Technically speaking, the occasion was Hong Kong's Business of Design Week and the dual openings of the Shenzhen and Hong Kong (or Hong Kong and Shenzhen, depending who you ask) Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture. But the short answer is, duh--if you haven't heard, China is where the money is. (Well, not always, but more on that later.)

Indeed, at various points in the festivities, an all-star roster--from Jean Nouvel, Shigeru Ban, and Patrick Jouin to Steven Holl, Toyo Ito, and Ben van Berkel--swung by in a further sign that nowadays, opportunity means going East.

Shenzhen opened its biennale with an over-the-top ceremony booming with a full-blown orchestra beneath the hyper-gargantuan, 680,000-square-foot roof of Civic Square. One of the country's first Special Economic Zones, Shenzhen is the ultimate parable of turbo-charged, post-economic reform China--a small fishing village turned metropolis of 10 million-plus people. In just 30 years. With China's unprecedented, exhilarating and, yes, sometimes terrifying urbanization as a backdrop, chief Shenzhen curator Ou Ning emphasized the theme "City Mobilization" while taking over the square and other sites with dozens of public-friendly indoor and outdoor installations. Think Studio Pei-Zhu's bamboo beach pavilion, WORKac's fishtank-as-bar proposal and a billboard-turned-swingset by Bureau des Mésarchitectures. Visible a stone's throw away was the rising Shenzhen Stock Exchange, a monolithic super-building designed by Rem Koolhaas that's well under construction.

For now, let's leave aside things like human rights, an independent judiciary, business transparency and so on. One got the sense that if Hong Kong is the pragmatic older sister, sitting in a continuing education class while plotting her next move using flow charts, then Shenzhen is the wild child--perhaps not as wise or worldly, but out there and getting things done. (And hopefully, she'll learn from her mistakes.)

To be sure, Shenzhen showed no signs of holding back with Steven Holl's spectacular new Vanke Center. Built as the headquarters for China's biggest residential property developer, it's a jaw-dropping "horizontal skyscraper" that's as long as the Empire State Building is tall. "The detailing is fantastic," Holl gushed at a party there during the biennale's opening, apparently hoping to debunk one cliché about Chinese construction. As guests wandered around, in and under the never-ending structure--did we mention the entire thing is lifted some 50 feet above the ground?--architect Dan Wood of New York's WORKac could be found craning his neck among them. "It's amazing," he said of the building. "It's sort of not anywhere--but everywhere at the same time."

Official status notwithstanding, Hong Kong is not China and China is not Hong Kong. To be sure, the former British colony has all the advantages of being more international, developed, and sophisticated. But it also seems to be suffering from the same malaise as other such places. Great speakers--including Pritzker-Prize winner Jean Nouvel and New York star architect Liz Diller--were on hand during the horribly named Business of Design Week. They were making not-so-subtle pitches for a piece of the city's proposed, multi-billion-dollar West Kowloon Cultural District arts hub. Never mind that the plan has been stalled for years (though things are apparently moving again).

Meanwhile, the Cultural District's still-empty, waterfront site played host to the Hong Kong side of the biennale, featuring one of Shigeru Ban's signature paper-tube pavilions. Using lots of ingenuity and shipping containers as galleries, the curators, led by Marisa Yiu, otherwise framed the exhibition as a BYOB, or "Bring Your Own Biennale," affair to unleash public participation. As such, they managed to pull off something of a miracle, orchestrating a lively, scrappy event that made lemonade from the lemons they had gotten for funding.

(The Shenzhen side of the biennale, szhkbiennale.org, runs through January 23; Hong Kong's part, hkszbiennale.org, is up until February 27.)


UPDATE:Alibaba.com Confident Of Profit Growth In 2010

By Lorraine Luk
HONG KONG (Dow Jones)--Alibaba.com Ltd. (1688.HK) is confident it will see profit growth in 2010 as China continues to see an improvement in its economy.

Chief Executive David Wei told shareholders at a meeting in Hong Kong China's exports are expected to return to the robust levels seen in 2007 in the first quarter, which should help the company's business in the coming year.

Alibaba, which operates an online platform that connects buyers and suppliers, reported declines in net profit since the fourth quarter of last year because of higher marketing costs and increased spending on infrastructure and technology. For the three months ended Sept. 30, its net profit fell 20% to CNY236.0 million from CNY296.6 million a year earlier.

Wei said Alibaba.com continues to strengthen cooperation with affiliates in China. For example, Alibaba.com signed a cross-selling agreement with affiliates Taobao.com and Alipay, an online payment platform.

Wei said these connection transactions now only account for a single digit of the company's revenue but he hopes to increase the proportion in the future to help lower its operating costs.

Wei also said the online business-to-business platform operator is still in talks over a joint venture in India, and continues to explore a separate partnership in the U.S.

He added the company is also considering other acquisition opportunities globally.

Wei said Alibaba.com's investment strategy is driven by three principles: there must be no overlap in users, the investment must offer new commercial e-commerce opportunities, and introduce new technology.

Alibaba had declared 2009 to be 'a year of investment,' as it ramps up spending on marketing and research and development, and hires more staff. Alibaba Group is 39% owned by Yahoo Inc.

-By Lorraine Luk, Dow Jones Newswires; 852-2802-7002; lorraine.luk@dowjones.com


RPT-DEALTALK-Political hurdles may slow China-Taiwan bank M&A

(Repeats story to additional subscribers with no changes to text)

Stocks | Mergers & Acquisitions | Private Capital

* Momentum rises for deals, but political pressure also up

* Cathay, Chinatrust seen targets for Chinese banks-sources

* Most talks for tie-ups are still in early stages - sources

* Chinese banks can easily afford to buy Taiwan rivals (For more Reuters DEALTALKs, click [DEALTALK/])

By Faith Hung and Michael Flaherty

TAIPEI/HONG KONG, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Momentum is building for Chinese banks to link up with Taiwan lenders. What's also building is political pressure in the island to restrain such deals.

A recent agreement signed by China and Taiwan, and an impending trade pact set for early next year may have finally opened the door to real mergers and acquisitions possibilities for the former enemies, with the focus on the financial sector for now.

But if the experience of a Hong Kong consortium to buy AIG's (AIG.N) Taiwanese life insurance unit is any indication, the political obstacles to prevent cross-strait dealings remain as big as the investment opportunities themselves, which could slow the dealmaking.

"The only downside would be the political risk. If the China-friendly ruling Kuomintang Party loses elections, Taiwan-China ties could be jeopardised," said Kevin Yang, chief investment officer of Paradigm Asset Management.

Most discussions are still in very early stages, with state-owned Chinese banks talking to major Taiwan players such as Cathay Financial (2882.TW) and Yuanta Securities. [ID:nHKG137367] [ID:nTP198616]

Cosmos Bank (2837.TW), majority owned by SAC Capital, EnTie Bank (2849.TW), controlled by Longreach and Carlyle Group's Ta Chong Bank (2847.TW) are also likely to seek Chinese buyers, according to two investment banking sources in Hong Kong and Taipei.

Taishin Financial (2887.TW), Chinatrust Financial (2891.TW) and Sinopac Financial (2890.TW) are also possible targets for Chinese banks to acquire, said two other investment banking sources in Taipei. None of the sources wanted to be identified as they are not authorized to talk to the media.

Private equity firms SAC, Longreach and Carlyle [CYL.UL] declined to comment. Taishin, Chinatrust and Sinopac also declined to comment.

Fubon Financial (2881.TW) was among the five bidders for Morgan Stanley's (MS.N) stake in Chinese investment bank CICC, people familiar with the matter said early this month, in a deal that could be worth more than $1 billion. [ID:nHKG180237]


China-Taiwan bank tie-ups may make sense on paper, but that ignores the lingering distrust between the two sides.

The $2.2 billion sale of AIG's Taiwan Nan Shan unit to the China Strategic (0235.HK)-Primus consortium is in jeopardy because Taiwanese politicians are suspicious of the consortium's connections to Chinese investors, who are currently barred from investing in Taiwan's financial services industry.

The consortium said in December it intended to resubmit its application to the Taiwan government, which came after political pressure mounted on the island's regulators about granting approval to the deal. [ID:nHKG182972]

"The regulators' biggest concern is that China Strategic or Primus are backed by China-sourced funds," said Chu Yen-min, a vice president at KGI Securities. "It is really hard to tell if the deal will be approved."

The China-friendly ruling party lost its support in a major local election this month, possibly weighing on cross-strait dealmaking.

"There would continue to be pressure from opposition parties," Chu said. "But in the long term, there should not be a major shift in Taiwan's China policy."

Taiwan is set to elect chiefs of five major cities in 2010 and to hold a presidential election in 2012.

The expectation is that China will not be given the green light to go and buy up Taiwanese banks, rather, they'll be given the okay to take stakes in the groups, in the 20 to 40 percent range.

Once on the brink of war, China-Taiwan trade relations have thawed since President Ma Ying-jeou took office last year, with bilateral deals promoting tourism and shipping links already concluded.

(For a TAKE A LOOK on the financial services pact, double-click [ID:nTP165902])


China is home to some of the world's biggest banks by market value, meaning they can enter Taiwan, Asia's fourth biggest banking market, relatively cheaply to buy local industry leaders that are just a fraction of their size.

"It would be a very good deal for Chinese banks," said Dan Chang, Yuanta Securities' chief financial officer, speaking generally about the potential and specifically about Yuanta.

A 20 percent stake of Cathay Financial is worth about $3.5 billion, which ICBC could easily own as it accounts for just 1.5 percent of its market value, analysts said.

The growing interest from Chinese banks also offers a convenient opportunity for private equity firms, such as Newbridge Capital [NB.UL], Carlyle and SAC to exit their money-losing bank investments in Taiwan.

"It is a Chinese government policy to encourage mainland banks to buy Taiwanese lenders," said Andrew Wang, chief investment officer of Manulife (MFC.TO) Asset Management in Taiwan. "For China, that is politically significant." (Additional reporting by Michael Wei in Beijing; Editing by Doug Young and Muralikumar Anantharaman)


Macau's Newest Casino Drops Frills to Focus on Gambling

MACAU – This Chinese gambling mecca's newest casino has a unique selling point: Its location is just a three-minute dash from the city's main port of entry.

Stanley Ho's SJM Holdings Ltd. spent US$190 million building the Casino Oceanus in just over a year. It features no hotel rooms or so-called VIP rooms for high-rollers, and no fancy restaurants. The bulk of the 345,000-square foot property is devoted to 260 gambling tables and 560 slot machines.

SJM's bet: that the property will snare a large chunk of gambling dollars from day trippers, who make the one-hour ferry ride from Hong Kong and are less concerned with flashy shows than with getting to the nearest baccarat table.

"Oceanus is the first casino that passengers reach upon arriving at the ferry terminal," Ambrose So, SJM's chief executive officer, said Tuesday. "You see these people rushing in through customs and immigration, and then it takes you just three minutes to get here. You can gamble for three or four hours before your wife even knows you're in Macau."

In many ways, SJM's tack runs counter to the strategy taken by a number of SJM's rivals, including Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Mr. Ho's own son, Lawrence.

Lawrence Ho's newly opened City of Dreams casino-resort, which cost about US$2.4 billion to build, is spending another US$250 million -- more than the whole cost of his father's Casino Oceanus -- to bring in an aquatic acrobat-themed circus production in a purpose-built 2,000-seat theater with a large water tank.

Mr. Adelson's massive Venetian Macao casino-resort offers a bevy of entertainment and dining options and about 3,000 hotel rooms, also at a cost of about US$2.4 billion. The company is working on an even larger property across the street.

Mr. Ho's no-frills approach has served him well. Even after Mr. Ho lost his decades-long gambling monopoly in 2002, he has managed to hold onto the biggest share of the Macau gambling market -- in large part by giving his customers what they want.

In the case of Oceanus, Macau's 34th casino, SJM took the site of an old department store controlled by Mr. Ho and refashioned it into a three-story casino.

Some concessions were made to luring visitors. The exterior of the building is made to resemble the Beijing Olympic's iconic "Water Cube" -- a move aimed at drawing in Macau's large mainland Chinese clientele. Oceanus is also displaying a US$250,000 Italian white truffle and the US$350,000 sequined glove worn by Michael Jackson as he premiered his "moonwalk" on national television in 1983. Both items were won at auction this year by Mr. Ho's business partners.

In many ways, Oceanus is well-tailored to the habits of Macau's visitors. Macau's average length of stay is about 1.4 days, with the vast majority of visitors to Macau making the day trip from Hong Kong. Gamblers typically plunk down about half of their gambling dollars at the first property they visit, and margins at mass-market tables are about 40%, compared with the thinner 10% margins on VIP tables.

Analysts at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets estimate that SJM will recoup about a third of its investment on Oceanus in a year, given its location and SJM's single-minded focus on delivering a low-cost pure gambling experience to its visitors.

"Its lack of interest in the non-gaming segment is evident in its offerings," said CLSA analyst Huei Suen Ng, who notes that SJM's strategy -- with non-gambling revenue accounting for just 1% of its revenue -- is best-suited for SJM's home base, near the ferry terminal.

Mr. So, SJM's chief executive, said Tuesday that about 80% of Macau's visitors come through the main ferry terminal, and that Oceanus is the closest casino to a land crossing from the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai. "When they see the glowing attraction that is Oceanus, they will come to have a look," Mr. So said. "We should be able to make our investment back very quickly."

Write to Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com


Sotheby's To Hold the First Hong Kong Wine Auction of 201023 January, 2010

Sotheby's is pleased to announce today that the fourth part of the Classic Cellar from A Great American Collector will be offered at Sotheby's Hong Kong on 23 January, 2010 in Victoria and Chater Rooms, 2/F Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, making it the first Hong Kong wine auction of 2010 as well as the first stand-alone wine sale staged at Sotheby's Hong Kong. Being the most valuable wine collection ever offered at auction by Sotheby's, the fourth part of which will include 840 lots and is expected to raise US$3.6-5.2 million (HK$28.5-40.8 million)*. It follows the hugely successful sales held in Asia in April and October 2009 which saw Hong Kong join London and New York as leading centres for wine auctions. Indeed, it was with the second part of this collection that Sotheby's started regular wine sales in Hong Kong in April 2009. All three previous sales of wine from this collection have sold above the high estimates.

Serena Sutcliffe MW, Worldwide Head of Wine at Sotheby's said: "We are honoured to return to Hong Kong with another fabulous selection from this Great American Collector. This is becoming the greatest wine collection that Sotheby's has ever sold - it is like a string of perfect pearls, chosen for their individual beauty and for the splendor of the ensemble. It would be easy to say that all these wines are hand-picked for their excellence and temptation rating but, in fact, the wines choose themselves since this whole, breathtaking collection is desirable. If there were a classification of wine cellars, this would be in its own category.

Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby's Asia, continued, "We begin 2010 with an exciting addition to our regular biannual series of auctions in Hong Kong in April and October. Such has been the enthusiasm, excitement, demand and growth in our wine sales that we have expanded our programme and will be holding additional wine auctions, alongside those scheduled for our regular series. We will be serving lunch to all registered bidders and, appropriately for this great collection which features so many large format bottles, we will also be pouring Haut Brion 1998, Leoville Lascases 1996 and Lynch Bages 2000 out of 6L imperials, naturally all of which come directly from this cellar – we hope to see many clients at the sale, but if anyone cannot make it, they can always join in the action by bidding live online."


The sale features all of the very best Bordeaux Châteaux in a range of vintages and formats:

More than 59 lots of Château Pétrus from 1975-2005 including:
2 cases of 1989 estimated at HK$160/240,000 (US$20/30,000) per case
3 cases of 1990 estimated at HK$160/240,000 (US$20/30,000) per case
7 cases of 1995 estimated at HK$80/120,000 (US$10/15,000) per case
2 cases of 1998 estimated at HK$140/220,000 (US$18/27,500) per case
1 case of 2000 estimated at HK$140/200,000 (US$18/25,000) per case
More than 80 lots of Château Lafite from 1982-2006 including:
1 1982 imperial (6 liter) estimated at HK$140/200,000 (US$18/25,000)
24 1986 half bottles estimated at HK$70/95,000 (US$9/12,000) per 24 bts
1 1996 imperial (6 liter) estimated at HK$55/80,000 (US$7/10,000) per case
4 cases of 1996 estimated at HK$70/95,000 (US$9/12,000) per case
3 cases of 2000 estimated at HK$95,000-160,000 (US$12/20,000) per
3 cases of 2003 estimated at HK$46/70,000 (US$6/9,000) per case

More than 65 lots of Château Latour from 1961-2006 including:
1 jero (4.5 liter) of 1961 estimated at HK$200/280,000 (US$25/35,000) per case
2 cases of 1982 estimated at HK$140/200,000 (US$18/25,000) per case
10 cases of 1990 estimated at HK$38/55,000 (US$5/7,000) per case
More than 126 lots of Château Mouton Rothschild from 1975-2006 including:
6 cases of 1982 estimated at HK$80/120,000 (US$10/15,000) per case
4 lots of 6 1982 magnums estimated at HK$95/150,000 (US$12/20,000) per case
8 cases of 1986 estimated at HK$55/80,000 (US$7/10,000) per case
5 imperials (6 liter) of 1989 estimated at HK$30/42,000 (US$3,750/5,500) per case
5 imperials (6 liter) of 1990 estimated at HK$16/24,000 (US$2/3,000) per case
7 cases of 2000 estimated at HK$65/95,000 (US$8/12,000) per case
More than 78 lots of Château Margaux from 1982-2008 including:
6 cases of 1995 estimated at HK$28/38,000 (US$3,500/5,000) per case
More than 69 lots of Château Haut Brion from 1959-2006 including:
3 cases of 1982 estimated at HK$60/85,000 (US$8/11,000) per case
5 cases of 1989 estimated at HK$85/140,000 (US$11/18,000) per case
6 cases of 1995 estimated at HK$26/32,000 (US $3,250/4,250) per case
More than 70 lots of Château Cheval Blanc from 1982-2006 including:
4 cases of 1982 estimated at HK$70/95,000 (US$9/12,000) per case
8 cases of 2000 estimated at HK$55/80,000 (US$7/10,000) per case


Hong Kong’s Wing Lung Bank in a spot over Shanghai lawsuit

An unprecedented court case to be heard on December 28 in Shanghai could have far-reaching implications for the banking and legal community in Hong Kong.

An unidentified investor in China is suing Hong Kong-based Wing Lung Bank over losses incurred relating to purchase of bonds issued by the government of Ecuador. The trades took place between 2005 and 2007, after the investor approached an employee of Wing Lung Bank branch in Hong Kong with the aim of buying Hutchison Whampoa’s US dollar bonds.

Instead, the employee is said to have persuaded the investor to buy Ecuador paper following which the investor executed several subsequent trades buying and selling Ecuador bonds.

However, following the advent of the global financial crisis Ecuador found it was unable to meet interest payments on the bonds and in late November 2008 announced a one-month grace period with the idea of working out a plan to resolve payments in arrears.

In the meantime, the Chinese investor, allegedly under the advice of the Wing Lung Bank employee, sold his holdings of Ecuador paper at a deep discount before the end of the grace period.

It turned out that Ecuador eventually redeemed its paper after the grace period, but at a much higher price than that at which the Chinese investor had sold his holdings.

The investor is seeking compensation from Wing Lung Bank for losses in principal, interest, commission paid on the trades and related legal expenses totalling around Rmb1.4m (US$203,000).

It is intriguing that the investor has filed the lawsuit in Shanghai and not in Hong Kong. Moreover, it is also not clear on what basis the Shanghai court is admitting the lawsuit.

Some suggested that the investor was optimistic of obtaining a favourable ruling from the court in his hometown.

Cross-border litigation is nothing new, but is more often than not complicated. The best example is the as-yet unresolved court case between Morgan Stanley and China Haisheng Juice Holdings relating to the latter’s losses of at least US$26m from foreign exchange swap contracts.

An English court ruled that the legal dispute between the two parties can be heard in two separate jurisdictions. The US bank lost the plea to hear the case only in England, but won an anti-suit injunction restraining China Haisheng from suing it (the swap counterparty) in China. However, China Haisheng can sue the bank’s subsidiary, Morgan Stanley Asia, in a Chinese court.

In Wing Lung’s case, should the Shanghai court rule in favour of the plaintiff, the question that arises is whether the judgement is enforceable in Hong Kong.

“Even if the plaintiff gets a favourable ruling from the Shanghai court, there are still many hurdles – several conditions to be met – before a mainland judgement is enforceable in Hong Kong,” said a China legal expert.

One key hurdle is that a contract usually stipulates where disputes will be heard. If Hong Kong was picked as the place, then any judgements outside Hong Kong will not be enforceable. If there is an exclusive jurisdiction clause, then the investor has to pursue its case in a Hong Kong court like some mainland investors have done in the Lehman mini-bond cases.

One possibility for the PRC judgement to be recognised in Hong Kong is a reciprocal enforcement regime that came into effect on August 1 2008, which provides for the mutual recognition of qualifying judgments between the PRC and Hong Kong.

If all the hurdles can be overcome and the PRC judgement is enforced, then the case will set a precedent. It could open up possibilities of PRC courts reciprocating and enforcing judgements made by Hong Kong courts.

However, given the lack of consistency and transparency in China’s legal system, it is difficult to predict with any certainty the chances of foreign judgements being enforced in China in reliance on the principle of reciprocity, said a China based lawyer.

Market observers believe Wing Lung will likely opt for an out-of-court settlement with the investor as it would want to avoid litigation and any subsequent damage to its reputation.

The amount is not big and Wing Lung Bank can easily write it off. For the bank, the potential losses in business could be much larger than losing the case.

Nethelie Wong


Liu wins in Hong Kong

Former Olympic champion is victorious in the 110m hurdles at East Asian Games

Current Font Size:
Liu Xiang of China, center, greets spectators before the start of the men's 110-meter hurdles finals at the East Asian Games Friday, Dec. 11, 2009 in Hong Kong. Liu won the gold medal in the event. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Photograph by: Eugene Hoshiko
Credit: AP
China’s former world and Olympic champion Liu Xiang took another step in his recovery from a career-threating injury on Friday by winning the 110 metres hurdles at the East Asian Games in Hong Kong.

Liu coasted to victory against a mediocre field in a time of 13,66 seconds, well behind the 12,88 he ran to set a world record in 2006 before a torn achilles forced him to limp out of the Beijing Olympics last year.

Cuba’s Dayron Robles has since bettered the world record by one-hundreth of a second.

“My foot is good, there wasn’t much problem, but it was a little sore,” the 26-year-old Liu told reporters on the track, where his every move was cheered by a sellout crowd of 3500 people.

“It will definitely get slowly better ... though I still have to protect my body a little more.” Liu, who finished second in an IAAF Golden Grand Prix in his home city of Shanghai in September before winning gold at last month’s Asian athletics championships, said the 2012 London Olympics were one of his major goals but played down the chances of taking back the world record.

“I haven’t even thought about breaking the world record, I don’t have such hopes at all,” said Liu.

“I have confidence in competing in London ... it may be my last Olympics so I’d like to have a good finish (to my career).” Liu’s long-time coach Sun Haiping described Liu’s performance as satisfactory, adding that the hurdler was a little tired.

“The recovery isn’t bad, but he still needs time,” Sun told reporters.

Next year’s schedule would depend on Liu’s progress but would likely include the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Doha in March and the Asian Games in Guangzhou, said Sun.


Hong Kong's Acid Scare

Crowds in Mong Kong
An unknown assailant baffles police, frightens tourists and shoppers

Hong Kong's police have been stymied for the seventh time in a year by unknown assailants who throws bottles of acid off buildings into crowded pedestrian areas in what has always been presumed to be one of the safest cities in the world. The latest attack, almost exactly a year from the first, occurred Saturday night when bottles were thrown off a roof in the Causeway Bay shopping area that injured six people, two seriously.

The attacks have emptied out popular shopping areas as tourists and shoppers have shunned them out of fear. Police believe the latest attack is linked to three others in the crowded Mong Kok shopping and entertainment area in Kowloon. The first took place on Dec. 12, 2008, when 46 Mong Kong Christmas shoppers suffered acid burns.

The attacks have prompted increased police surveillance, anxiety among locals and visitors, and the suspicion that at least one copycat might be involved. Calls have been made for "eye-in-the-sky" cameras to be installed in busy areas, but it would seem technologically impossible to cover all the possible areas where an attack could occur.

The attacks have injured more than 100 people, according to police records. Police have installed HK$1.7 million worth of cameras in the Mong Kok area, stepped up patrols and offered rewards, but the attacker has so far avoided detection and has given no reason for the attacks.

The attacks have confounded law enforcement. Hong Kong, according to a report to the 9th International Anti-corruption Conference by Ian McWalters, a senior director of public prosecutions, remains one of the safest in the world in terms of street crime, with a crime rate at roughly the same level as Singapore and lower than New York, London or Tokyo. The very randomness of the attacks argues against intimidation by the city's infamous triads of shopkeepers or extortion and protection racketeering against bars or billiard halls.

Nor is acid throwing common to either Hong Kong or mainland China. Only one incident, called China's first, was reported in Shanghai in 1986. It is common in South Asia as a form of revenge for sexual or marital refusals in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh and Afghanistan, blinding or maiming to women.

To some extent, the attacks call up the mysterious random poisoning of dogs along the five kilometers of Bowen Road above Central. So far, an unknown person has killed 22 dogs since 1989 and has never been identified or apprehended. The person leaves poisoned food along the path, one of the most popular hiking areas in the city and a magnet for people to walk their dogs to get away from crowded flats.

Prior to Saturday's attack, the latest was on Nov. 1 in the Sai Wan Ho neighborhood when someone tossed a bottle of acid at a noodle salesman, burning his leg. In late October, according to police records, beer bottles full of acid were tossed onto the street in the Sham Shui Po neighborhood. No one was injured in those incidents. Police presence has been increased after the most recent incidents, and neighborhood leaders in Sham Shui Po have called for surveillance cameras there, too. Police told the local press they think the most recent attacks aren't related to the ones in Mong Kok.

There, around 30 officers regularly now patrol the area, according to a police officer in the area. They watch Sai Yeung Choi Street closely since three attacks have occurred there.

"Of course we are still concerned, and when we get this guy, we can focus more on other crime again," a policeman said. He asked remain anonymous because of his job.

Many shoppers in Mong Kok remain wary because of the attacks. Alex Cheung, a 35-year-old guitar teacher who lives in Mong Kok, says he pays close attention to the tall buildings around him.

"When you walk through these places, it goes through your mind: This is the place, and then I quickly hurry away," he says.

Twenty-five-year-old Danish tourist Eva Moeller recently vacationed in Hong Kong with her friends. They avoided Mong Kok completely. "I didn't want to explore the area because I didn't feel safe," she says.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board says no one has called about the acid attacks, but that the incidents could be hurting business in Mong Kok and Sham Shui Po.

"The acid attacks may affect tourism and also the visits of locals to the area because in this case it is about fear," a board spokesperson says.

Benny Lam, a clinical psychologist in Hong Kong, says he suspects that at least one copycat is involved in the most recent attacks.

"This is a behavior that people might want to copy," Lam says. "It is usually not people with mental problems, but people who have a problem with the government. And if it happens again, it will create unnecessary fear among people."

Lam says the recent attacks differ from those in Mong Kok and probably involve a different attacker.

"He is not like the person in Mong Kok, who might want to see people suffer," Lam says. Lam points out that no one was injured in the Sham Shui Po attacks, perhaps by design.

For many tourists, the attractions of Mong Kong are too strong to resist. Polly Wallace, a 44-year-old Australian, visited the Lady's Market there with a friend while on vacation. Wallace and her friend, Lies Greet, also 44, carry three shopping bags and plan to keep shopping, attacks or no attacks.

"Stuff happens, this doesn't affect me," Wallace says.

"If you like shopping, this is still the place to be," Greet says.


China Mobile Wins Most Awards at IR Magazine Hong Kong and Taiwan Awards 2009

Hong Kong, Dec 15, 2009 - (ACN Newswire) - China Mobile scooped the most awards at today's prestigious IR Magazine Hong Kong and Taiwan Awards, taking home four prizes including the grand prix for best overall investor relations at a large-cap company in Hong Kong. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), MediaTek and China Resources Enterprise won two awards each.

An independent survey of buy-side analysts, sell-side analysts and portfolio managers determined the awards. This year's survey has been expanded to include responses from the total universe of global investors covering Asian stocks, not just those based in Asia. It was conducted by Thomson Reuters Extel Surveys and the published results will be available from December 18 at www.extelsurveys.com.

The full list of winners is available below or on the event website at www.irmagazinehongkong.com.

The ninth annual IR Magazine Hong Kong and Taiwan Conference & Awards took place on Tuesday, December 15 at the Conrad Hong Kong.

The conference and awards were presented in association with the Hong Kong Investor Relations Association, and were co-sponsored by the Bank of New York Mellon, China Resources Enterprise, Hill & Knowlton, Ipreo, irasia.com, JRJ.com, Nomura, Orient Capital, Standard Chartered Equities, Extel Surveys and the Wall Street Journal Asia.

2009 IR Magazine Hong Kong and Taiwan Awards:

Grand prix for best overall investor relations - large cap (Hong Kong)
-- China Mobile

Grand prix for best overall investor relations - large cap (Taiwan)
-- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC)

Grand prix for best overall investor relations - small or mid-cap (Hong Kong)
-- COSCO Pacific

Grand prix for best overall investor relations - small or mid-cap (Taiwan)
-- Chunghwa Picture Tubes

Best investor relations professional - Hong Kong
-- Terry Ng - Hang Lung Properties

Best investor relations professional - Taiwan
-- Elizabeth Sun - Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC)

Best investor relations by a CEO - Hong Kong
-- Wang Jianzhou - China Mobile

Best investor relations by a CEO - Taiwan
-- MK Tsai - MediaTek

Best investor relations by a CFO - Hong Kong
-- Tong Jilu - China Unicom (Hong Kong)

Best investor relations by a CFO - Taiwan
-- Andy Yang - AUO

Best annual reporting/formal disclosure - Hong Kong
-- Hutchison Whampoa

Best annual reporting/formal disclosure - Taiwan
-- Cathay Financial

Best investor relations website/webcasting - Hong Kong
-- Hang Seng Bank

Best investor relations website/webcasting - Taiwan
-- ASUSTeK Computer

Most progress in investor relations
-- China Resources Enterprise

Best investment meetings/one-on-ones
-- China Mobile

Best corporate governance
-- China Mobile

Best investor relations for a corporate transaction
-- (Joint winner) China Resources Enterprise
-- (Joint winner) MediaTek

About IR Magazine & Awards

Cross Border (formerly Cross-Border Publishing), was founded in the UK in 1993 and is the publisher in New York and London of IR magazine, the only global publication focused on the interface between companies and their investors. IR magazine hosts annual awards ceremonies in the US, the UK, continental Europe, Canada, the Nordic region, Asia, Brazil, South Africa, Ireland and Australia with a combined annual attendance of around 8,000 investor relations professionals. Cross Border also publishes Corporate Secretary in North America and CorpComms in the UK. The Cross Border contract division offers publishing and event management to the financial and corporate communications sectors in Europe and the Americas. For more information, please visit www.irawards.com and www.thecrossbordergroup.com

William Russell
Conference Producer
Email: william.russell@thecrossbordergroup.com
Tel: +44 20 7251 7533


General Manager Appointments at The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels

The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels has appointed Mr. David Williams as General Manager, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability and Mr. Ian Longbon as General Manager, Audit & Risk Management. Both appointees are based in Hong Kong.

Mr. David Williams joined HSH in 1998 and was previously the Group's Head of Audit and Risk Management, prior to his new position. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, a member of the Institute of Hospitality (UK) and the Institute of Internal Auditors, Hong Kong Chapter. A UK native, Mr. Williams graduated from the University of Surrey with a Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Catering Management. Prior to joining HSH, he had worked with Hyatt International Hotels and Hilton International in the UK, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. Mr. Williams is a qualified Corporate Social Responsibility Practitioner with the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment. In his new role, he will be assisting the Group's Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Clement K.M. Kwok, in co-ordinating the group's corporate social responsibility initiatives to achieve a meaningful level of reporting and accountability.

Mr. Ian Longbon is a Chartered Accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and has previously held the position as President of the Institute of Internal Auditors, Hong Kong Chapter, for four years. A UK native, Mr. Longbon graduated from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and earned a Master of Business Administration from the City University Business School. He has enjoyed a long career history in Hong Kong, New York and London, working for KPMG Peak Marwick, Barclays Capital, Credit Lyonnais and Swire Pacific Limited, where he was Head of Internal Audit for eight years.

Airlines, Airports, Flights, Codeshare, Lounges, First Class, Business Class, MICE, GDS, Rewards, Miles, Hotels, Apartments, Promotions, Spas, New Hotels, Traffic, Visitor Arrivals, Cruises, Free Deals, Videos, Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Hong Kong, General Manager


HKMA Chan: More Than HK$640 Billion Flowed Into Hong Kong Since October 2008

HONG KONG -(Dow Jones)- Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Norman Chan said Monday more than HK$640 billion had flowed into the city from overseas since October last year, putting upward pressure on asset prices.

Asia's economic recovery and positive outlook have attracted massive fund flows to the region, including Hong Kong, Chan said at an economic conference.

"Due to the ample liquidity and capital inflows, the risk of an asset bubble is not small," he said.

Chan said the city's asset market has been very active in recent months, with both property prices and the volume of transactions in the property market returning to where they were before the financial crisis.

"The major risk for financial stability is not inflation, but the formation of an asset bubble," Chan said.

-By Chester Yung, Dow Jones Newswires; 852-2802-7002; chester.yung@ dowjones.com


Cheung Kong Holdings launches creative agency pitch

HONG KONG - Property giant Cheung Kong Holdings (CKH) has called a creative agency review in Hong Kong.

It is understood the client has sent out letters inviting several agencies to submit credentials for the business. It remains unknown which property the project is for.

Agency-of-record Bates141 is believed to be involved in several ongoing projects with CKH and is also involved in the pitch. DDB Hong Kong has been invited to submit credentials for the project, but is still considering whether it to take part.

It is believed that agencies will meet the client on Friday to get the brief.

CKH is the flagship of the Cheung Kong Group, the leading Hong Kong-based multinational conglomerate. In Hong Kong alone, members of the Cheung Kong Group include Cheung Kong Holdings, Hutchison Whampoa and Hongkong Electric Holdings.

The combined market capitalisation of the Cheung Kong Group's Hong Kong listed companies amounted to US$83 billion as at 30 September 2009. The Cheung Kong Group operates in 54 countries and employs about 240,000 staff worldwide.