Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Taipan Or Not Taipan, That is the Question!

Dear Fellow Shareholders,

The term “Taipan” is used liberally across Hong Kong – From the mahogany-finished corporate boardrooms of Central, to the less salubrious backstreets of Sham Shui Po. But what does it actually mean, and who is worthy of being labeled Taipan?

Here are a few rules of thumb: It means “supreme leader”; it applies only to the upper echelon of Hong Kong’s business community; there may only be one Taipan per company; they must be prominent members of society; they must be financially independent; and they must be in constant competition.

With that in mind, here are a few case studies on its usage (from the Standard):

1. “Sheldon Anderson – the taipan of Las Vegas Sands Corp who has been hit hard by the credit crunch…” 13th November, 2008.
INCORRECT: Las Vegas Sands is NOT a Hong Kong-based company, therefore he cannot be a Taipan.

2. “… to select a successor for former party taipan James Tien Pei-chun...” 6th October, 2008.
INCORRECT: You cannot be Taipan of a political party.

3. “Taipan Albert Cheng has finally got the ExCo green light to set up his radio station…” 10th July, 2008.
INCORRECT: It may be his nickname, but radio man Albert Cheng is NOT a Taipan.

4. “Of the show of confidence by the Cheung Kong taipan, [David] Li said…” 26th September, 2008.
CORRECT: Cheung Kong boss Li Ka-shing is a Taipan – one of Hong Kong’s most prominent.

5. “Swire Pacific taipan Christopher Pratt received HK$15.41 million compensation…” 9th April, 2008.
CORRECT: The leader of Swire Pacific is by default a Taipan.

Best of joss,

Quillan Gornt
CEO and Taipan
Rothwell-Gornt Holdings


Laurence said...

Taipan or not - I assume the head of Las Vegas Sands Corp would prefer to be known as Sheldon Adelson (rather than Anderson).

Quillan Gornt said...

Dear Sir,

Andersson should be delighted to have featured on this weblog, regardless of the spelling!

And what the hell kind of name is Sheldon anyway?

Best of joss,

fumier said...

And what about that gormless streak of piss, the head of Crappy Pathetic Airways? Surely not a taipan. Not even a siupan, I hipe.

fumier said...

By 'hipe', I of course mean 'hope'.

Quillan Gornt said...

Dear Sir,

You raise an interesting point. Reasoning in favour of Crappy Pathetic for a moment - they are a listed Hong Kong company. And like it or not - they are also a flagship airline. On this basis one could argue they should have their own Taipan.

However, I tend to side with the following view: Crappy Pathethic's parent company is Swire Pacific - an venerable institution which must be respected. It is the Swire Pacific chief - and not that of Crappy Pathetic - therefore, who takes the Taipan label.

Best of joss,

Private Beach said...

When a distinguished Hong Kong business moves its head office (HSBC) or its primary share listing (you know who) overseas, is its head still a Taipan?

We shall, of course, not mention company registration in Bermuda or other tax havens - if this was a disqualifying factor, there would be no taipans left at all.

Quillan Gornt said...

Damn and blast! Now I almost regret bringing this topic to the attention of my distinguished shareholders - But you certainly raise an interesting point.

My personal belief is that HSBC cannot have the best of both worlds; one cannot have one's primary operations abroad, yet still try to play Taipan card at "home".

Unlike the Hong Kong Bank, Rothwell-Gornt is true to its roots - It was, is, and shall remain true to this fine city.

Best of joss,