Monday, August 29, 2011

Irresistible Devils

Even as Manchester United was winning titles and cups over the last 5 years, something was missing, it was a good team but not great. This year had the same feeling as in the early 90s when the team was made up of mostly young guns. Except that I think the young guns this time is even better than Butt, Scholes, Nevilles and Beckham ... except for Giggs, no one can be better than Giggs.

All the highlights:

As much as I like Evra, Silvestre, Ferdinand and Vidic, they are out and out defenders, give them the ball they would only know to whack it up or pass to a midfielder. Seriously only Vidic should get back his place when he is fit. The marked difference is the number of interceptions by the backline, and the way they move the ball forward almost immediately and not just squaring it. The energy is palpable. Ashley Young was soooo goood. Cleverly is a star in the making. Smalling and the rest of the young guns were more than adequate. 

Even the petulant and greedy Nani can be forgiven as his stroke of brilliance can turn games. Berbatov will have a hard time making it back to the team.

Is United good enough to challenge Barca yet? Who is? Barca is in a world of its own.  

I really pity Arsene Wenger and Arsenal fans as they seriously don't deserve this kind of scoreline. Why 8-2 ... it was because its an open game of football, the way MU always play. You can score against us but we will score more. Love it, not pure checkbook team like the bloody City or Chelski. You can see Wenger ageing 10 years as the match progressed. He doesn't deserve this, he has been an excellent manager, the owner is just too tight with funds. No need to change manager, change the owner.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Things Not So Bad?

In the midst of all the gloom and doom, a couple of tables/charts seem to be indicating something else.

The Baltic Dry Index is often cited by economists as a bellwether of global economic activity.  The index, which measures the price of transporting raw materials by sea, has now risen by more than 21% from its recent lows and is also up 16% in the last week alone.  The index, however, is not immune from critics who argue that the index is extremely volatile and has often provided false alarms on both the upside and downside.  That being said, in an environment where investors are beginning to price in a global recession, the increase in the Baltic Dry Index calls that view into question.

The following is even more astounding. In light of recent events, five strategists at top houses have adjusted their year end targets for SP500 higher. Only two have adjusted down, while six have left the unchanged.

There appears to some kind of disconnect between the macro issues and the corporate realities. Are the macro an indication of things to come or can they be separate issues?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Me and Dali

 Too bad that the movie, Me and Marley came out first. Yes, people, my dog's name is Dali, an English bulldog. Unlike Marley in the movie, my dog is very well behaved and listens to instructions well enough. Since my blog is like a diary of sorts, I thought I should have at least one post of her.

The first two photos were taken right after I bought her, barely 5 weeks really, and technically a bit too young to be sold by pet shops. Was already determined to get myself a dog again, its been many years since I had a dog or two. I went to a pet fair thingee at Mid Valley and she was in a cage with two of her brothers. The way I chose my dog, I was always certain that there had to be an eye to eye connection, not a woof-woof enthusiastic jumping dog saying "take me". Its a life long thing so there has to be a deeper connection. When we met, we kinda stared at each other for more than 15 seconds, no barking (not by me anyway). Done deal there and then, all in 30 seconds. 

She was so tiny compared to her brothers. The guy manning the stall said she was very tiny because she was the last of a litter of 6. As you can see, she was no bigger than my thigh. Puppies are just like babies, they are the world's biggest lying advertising syndicate. Both just looked adorable, cute, blah, blah ... but wait till you bring one home and care for. The first 2 months were hell when it came to toilet training. First it was getting her to do it in the toilet. Then it was the usual feed in the morning and take her out for a walk 5 minutes later, same routine for the evening. Chances of success for the first two months was 50-50.

At times I was so exasperated because there would be no shit even after walking around for 30 minutes. Then go back, and get my own shower, only to come out and find nice doo-doo waiting for me. It would have been understandable if it was at places where I could see, but she liked to do it way deep underneath my bed. As my bed is heavy and against one side of the wall, it was a mammoth task to clean it up. If it was once in a blue moon, that would have been tolerable... try getting this 3-4 times a week. I was so exasperated that I seriously considered giving her away or selling her. Now, as I looked back, I can understand why I would have those thoughts but am grateful that I have the fortitude, grace and character to ride them out.

Many people think its fun to have a dog, but they forget that that they also suddenly took on an extra job as a professional shit picker. Twice a day, without fail, after a while you think to yourself if its worth it, ... but when they are  family, do you really care to count.

One of the early joys of owning a dog is when they first recognise the name you gave them. You call and they respond, guess they are a lot like babies. Next will be being properly toilet trained, I think that was after the third month. Dogs are very loyal, they greet you wildly when you come back, they snuggle up, they follow you here and there. They are so dependent on your love, affection and care. Is this the need to be needed which is why so many people rear dogs? To an extent, yes. You also form a bond, and the bond is based on how much time you put in. Some people have dogs just as guard dogs at the front porch, they don't even have time to play with them.

The bonding process comes from time spent together (not delegated to your maids): walks, playtime, bath time (very important), morning clean up, evening clean up, massages, combing and grooming, etc... The thing is if you do less, they will still be loyal, but if you put in your share, it will come back to you in multiples. People who say that they are just dogs, just really don't get it. Its like saying to your kids "they are just kids".

 trying to get into the Christmas mood and failing miserably, 
"dude where are my presents"

When all the training and repetitions are done, you think you have fully trained your dog ... actually you wonder if its you who is training the dog or you being trained. Now I am trained to feed at the right time, pick shit at the same hours, clean her at the same times, walk her at the same times ... we might be the ones actually being trained!

Once the toilet training part is done, the hardest part is over, she would no longer be willing to stay in her cage at night, barking incessantly wanting to be with me. Thats ok I guess, the need to be needed, plus I was staying at a condo 2 years back, so she got to sleep with me. The funny thing was that she had to be touching me when she sleeps, what I mean is that she needed to be in constant contact with me. Mine was a huge queen sized bed with one side against the wall. What happened was that she gets warm with her fur against me, and I would shift in my sleep, so for the first few nights when I woke up, I would be up against the wall and she right next  to me with the other 2/3 of the bed empty. I thought it was funny and ridiculous at the same time, but this went on for weeks. Nowadays, I got used to her, I have a comforter on the bed and she gets to be on  the comforter so I don't have to change the bed sheet every 3 days. Its a matter of getting used to it, now we share the bed comfortably and she still sticks her body next to mine, I just learned how not to move myself anymore.

when Dali met Lily at my mum's place

The other thing about owning bulldogs is their breathing. Owing to their makeup, they snore like a 30 year old man. I mean really snore, not like a girl's snore. You get used to that pretty fast I guess.

While the bulldog has short hair which is easier to upkeep, they also shed like crazy, some things you learn to live with. She sheds enough hair to make Telly Savalas or Yul Brynner look good within a week. Have a good maid service if you want a dog like that.

Having all those  "troubles", I would never change her, or have a different dog, because she is who she is. She is highly loyal, affectionate, friendly and clever.  Bulldogs must be the most misunderstood dog breed ever because people use bulldog images in the beware signs when they want to scare off people. The reality is that they are the worst guard dogs ever, they are so friendly, rarely barks and just need to sniff a new person to confirm that they are their new friends. Although there have been instances when I have seen Dali being ferociously angry, when the insecticide man comes over, must be something about their smell of the chemicals they use. She would be lunging at them like a Rottweiler. Other than that, she is the friendliest dog ever.

meeting a normal sized bulldog, "watcha looking at dude"

I do not like my dog to do tricks as I think it demeans them. However, she needed to learn a few basic instructions. She is good with stay, sit, roll over, go eat on her chair, move closer, finish your food.. what more do you want to ask for. My brother would try to teach her more complex stuff, which she will oblige, such as walk around, stay, lie down, play dead ... but I try to stay away from all that.

with Sidney, playing some gross "stimulation game", oh the expression is too Category 3

As in all genuine dog lovers, we still get the guilty pangs of not spending enough time with our furry friend. The thing about dogs is that they are quick to forgive. How not to love them even more. Just the fact that she now only pees and shits in the garden grass is  worthy of a Nobel Prize in my books.

At 9 months at a park

Of all the dogs in the world, people will think she is one of the luckier ones with a decent owner like me. Real dog lovers will realise that we ourselves are the lucky ones to be blessed with a furry life long trusting loyal affectionate friend like her.

One funny thing about most pet owners is that they talk to their pets. I thought that was a bit crazy at first but after a while, I find myself talking to my dog the same way as I would to my own kid. It hit upon me cause when I heard my next door granny talking to her grandchild, ...  the tone, the message, the words were all alike! "Why aren't you finishing your food", "come here, take your bath now", "I ask you to come, come right now" ..etc... 

This is her favourite pose

I love her because she doesn't bark incessantly (like my neighbour's stupid dog). She does so only when there is something really important - a person at the door, or something "new appearing in our garden" (a bird or a squirrel). Dali has this quiet persona that is hard to ruffle, a sort of nonchalant way of looking at her surroundings. It takes little to make her happy ... why can't we all be that way.

Dali as she is today, just over 2 years old 

You think you have just a dog, but sometimes she will wake up earlier than me, but will not wake me up but sit and wait for me to wake up for at least half an hour. As she probably needs to pee in the morning, she will wait till she cannot hold it anymore and paws me in bed. If I still refuse to wake up, she will use her final trick which is to lick my face, like that anyone will also wake up.

Dali would never get on the bed without me. She would wait quietly by the side of the bed waiting for me to finish my mundane stuff on the computer and internet surfing. If it goes past 1am, she cannot tahan anymore, and would paw me at my chair, asking me to go to bed. Only then would she jump into bed and snuggle next to me to sleep ... would your wife or husband do that??!!

 Here she is pondering on the meaning of a dog's life

She is lucky to have such a "nice owner" but we all know I am luckier to have her.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Are We There Yet

Naturally, friends have been asking if I am bearish now as I have not been writing about the markets of late. Well, first of all, there's nothing much to write home about. Nothing much has changed, I have said most of what I wanted to say. While I am slightly bullish on emerging markets, there is very little impetus for buyers to move in until the big boys stop being so volatile.

Then some would say if this was going to be contained or localised, i.e. much of the hurt and pain being in Europe and the USA. To a large extent, that is true. While I think emerging markets may go a bit ballistic when the dust settles, it is also a scenario which we are likely to see an overbought situation, or rather a premium valuation in store. The danger lies in the inherent inflation within emerging markets. Owing to the very low interest rates in the US, Japan and Europe, the rest of the emerging markets cannot really hike their own rates without causing a stampede for their currencies.

China has already hiked theirs a few times and their markets have suffered. Will the same happen for emerging markets? Unlikely, because with the big boys in disarray, emerging markets will have to maintain their local engines of growth even if it means higher than usual inflationary pressures.

Big Picture Issues

a) Transfer of problems - It is pretty obvious that the subprime mess and other real estate related lending excesses hav been transferred largely from the major banks to their respective governments. Much of the problem is still there. Do governments write them off without needing to care? Not really, you have to pay somehow. You can attempt to rescue as many banks and financial institutions but the mess just gets transferred to a different party. Now we are seeing the problems at the sovereign debt level. 

We wouldn't be having this crisis now if it wasn't for the subprime mess and excessive real estate lending. That was a mess because of many factors but largely because ratings firms such as Standard and Poors made unbelievably stupid mistakes, not once but throughout the last 5 years leading up to 2008. Now they have the audacity to say US ratings should be downgraded (albeit the rating should go down) ... but the gall of it all.

b) The global property scam -  A massive transfer of income to the very rich has occurred while middle class real incomes stagnated. The middle classes only tolerated this because Central Bankers created housing booms to keep the impoverished middle classes borrowing and spending to give them the illusion of prosperity and stop them from revolting. 

How do you do that? You do that by keeping interest rates very low, keep printing money, keep the system very liquid - some have gone to equities but by and large the biggest beneficiaries have been property markets throughout most of the world. Yes, you see obvious bubbles in Singapore, HK, parts of China, Canada, Australia and even certain places in Malaysia. We thank our lucky stars that our property markets did not go through the same correction as the major developed nations - but is that because we did not have a massive contraction in liquidity brought on by a financial scare? 

How is this scam hurtful? Well, you propel property prices higher and higher with low interest rates and excess liquidity. It serves to fan the flames of property prices higher, causing a bull run for the prices, causing people to chase and get some action before its too late. 

Its never a zero sum game. Much of the froth in pushing prices higher has to be in much much bigger mortgages that people are taking to participate in the run. As long as the public can pay down their mortgages, you won't see foreclosures or a major correction. You and I know that prices have basically gone out of reach of the young and working. 

However we need a boom and bust to deflate this thing. The boom will come via stock markets, which is why I believe other emerging markets which have not seen similar troubles like the US, Japan and Europe will see liquidity being funnelled there. There is the boom and there will be the bust, which I expect towards 2H 2012.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Funny Thai Commercials Part 2

Nobody's Worth It

This is a true story as published in Sydney Morning Herald, about one lady who stepped off the beautiful cliffs of The Gap @ Watson's Bay Sydney. I chose the title: Nobody's Worth It, the line from the song by Queen .. "Don't Try Suicide, Nobody's Worth It" ... seriously folks, nobody's worth it.

It is one of those things. Sometimes you write something that seems to touch a chord with readers, and in 25 years of writing for the SMH, I don't think I have ever had a greater, nor more poignant response than this piece. All of us have been touched by the subject of suicide in some measure, and my best hope is that this story might give hope to those who contemplate it. And I am quite serious, by the way, about there being a need to have a plaque at the Gap, at the spot Nellie jumped, telling something of her story. 

It can be a place of tragedy but The Gap has witnessed miracles, too.
Nellie Bishop is not the patron saint of those who would hurl themselves into oblivion from The Gap, there on the cruel cliffs overlooking the ocean, but she should be.

For look at her now. It is a bright, beautiful Tuesday afternoon, November 13, 1923. She is a strong, athletic young woman, in a long dress - until recently, a clerk with the railways, living with her parents at Kogarah - and there seems nothing to mark her out from the passers-by, other than the intent way she gazes at the rocks below.

And yet, suddenly, she puts down her handbag and climbs through the small fence. She does not feel afraid. Only determined.

She simply puts her hands to her face and ... leaps.

Why did she jump? It's complicated. To her family and friends, she seemed happy enough. But the misery that propelled her over the cliff was well hidden.
Certainly, a large part of it was a broken romance.

For Nellie, the love of her life had been one James William Gallagher, a fine, strapping young man whom she had grown up with. She had been so proud of him - if fearful, too - when, in 1915, he had marched away to the Great War.
Alas, although James had returned in 1919, walking, talking and with both arms intact and nary a wound visible, he was not the complete man who had left her.

Tragically, James had taken a bullet to his nether regions and so was fearful that having children was out of the question.

The shattered James tried to make the best of it, saying that, while of course he still wanted to marry her, he did not want children, anyway.

But Nellie did want children - it was the dearest desire of her life. The pain of their subsequent falling out broke her heart and also, at least momentarily, her mind.

At the instant she jumps, however, with the wind rushing around her ears and blowing up her dress, she bitterly regrets her action and decides she does want to live after all.

But it is too late! Or is it?

Through an extraordinary, once-in-a-century quirk of fate, a freak wave engulfs the rocks below with such a flood that she hits deep water instead. She's alive!
Two old Italian fishermen - the brothers Rosario and Vincent Diamente - are nearby and look over to see her hit the water. They row like mad things towards her. The brave fishermen get to her, just six yards from the cliff face, where she is furiously treading water.

In the roar of the waves, nearly dashing themselves and her on the rocks in the process, they manage to get her on their boat.

Nellie is taken to hospital, where she spends the night, and is released the next day to her astounded and relieved family.

The upshot? Despite the blackness that propelled her to jump, despite being firmly convinced that there was no way out for her, that death was better than life, she was totally, comprehensively and stunningly wrong.

For Nellie Bishop really did live happily ever after.

She fell in love again with a good man and had eight wonderful children. Five of them joined the police force and one, Bob Bradbury, became NSW's highest-ranking detective.

One of her dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Bill Bradbury, became a police negotiator and ended up spending a proportion of his life successfully talking people out of committing suicide at The Gap. He had a story to tell them ...

Nudging 90, Nellie passed away from natural causes in 1988 as the matriarch of a large and loving family. There should, at the least, be a plaque to her at The Gap, at the highest point where she jumped, telling something of her story.

With thanks to the Bradbury family and acknowledgment to The Sun (November 14, 1923) and The Daily Guardian (November 16, 1923).

Do you have a historical anecdote about a place in Sydney? Write to Peter FitzSimons at

Read more:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Funny Thai Commercials

Do the Thais have a funnier sense of humour than us? I think not, sigh, its our self censoring ozone layer. Still, gotta applaud the Thais' great sense of humour.

Manchester United To List In Singapore

Do I mind that MU is going to list on SGX? Not particularly because seriously, Malaysia was NEVER under the radar for consideration. That is just the plain truth. It was always going to be between HK and Singapore. Imagine the consternation among fans from the UK to hear of this listing.

Will you make money from this IPO, probably if you got in at IPO level as the frenzied trading on listing would provide enough room to get out. Will the company make real money in the long term term? Not likely. In the end, the shares are likely to stay in the hands of staunch supporters, and scheming rich billionaires slicing some stake in the hope that MU's controlling shareholders will someday sell or just pass on.

Errrol Oh from StarBiz, did his funniest write up on Saturday in a wacky letter to Alex Ferguson. Here are some of the must read paras:

"If you (Ferguson) had not joined the Red Devils, the United fans would have nothing but past glory to sustain their love for the club. In other words, they would be more like Liverpool fans."

" Our tycoons understand the football business. In May last year, a Malaysian consortium, including Tan Sri Vincent Tan of the Berjaya group, acquired 36.4% of Cardiff City. Datuk Chan Tien Ghee is now the club's chairman. AirAsia Bhd's Tan Sri Tony Fernandes had failed in a bid to take over West Ham United, but he persisted. He just became a majority shareholder of Queens Park Rangers, another London club. These developments say plenty about how serious we in Malaysia are about the EPL". (yeah man... how many Singaporean tycoons own EPL teams??? Just like the usual Singaporeans, talk cock, talk big, jilo action).

"Investors in Malaysia are willing to pay a lot for a piece of a company controlled by a big name from the West. Among the most expensive stocks on Bursa Malaysia, in absolute terms, are British American Tobacco (M) BhdNestle (M) BhdDiGi.Com Bhd (a subsidiary of Norway's Telenor), Dutch Lady Milk Industries BhdGuinness Anchor Bhd, and Shell Refining Co (Federation of Malaya) Bhd. They're all above RM10 per share. Given United's fantastic brand visibility, its shares can surely reach such a lofty price level".

England's Premiership champions mandate Credit Suisse, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley as bookrunners and choose to pursue a listing in Singapore where rules regarding share structures are more flexible.

By Anette Jönsson | 22 August 2011

Manchester United celebrate their 19th league title earlier this summer
Asia’s army of Manchester United fans might soon be able to show their support for the English football club in the stockmarket, if a bid to list the club in Singapore in the next few months goes ahead as planned.

According to sources, the US-based Glazer family who owns 100% of the club following a leveraged buy-out in 2005 has filed a listing application with the Singapore Exchange and on Friday mandated J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley as joint bookrunners for a planned initial public offering. The two US banks will work alongside Credit Suisse, which had earlier been given the role of global coordinator and will also act as a bookrunner.

In a move that suggests that the owners are keen to get a well-diversified regional spread of investors, the Glazers have also hired Hong Kong-based BOC International, Malaysia’s CIMB, Singapore’s DBS and pan-Asian investment bank CLSA as joint lead managers.

Manchester United is the most successful British football team of all times with 19 premier league titles and 11 FA Cup wins. And it has more than 330 million fans around the world, according to its own estimates. But importantly it has also turned its brand into big business.

In the fiscal year to June 2010, the club generated £286.4 million ($470 million) of revenues that came primarily from ticket sales, sponsorship and media/advertising sales. It is the growth of this brand that the owners will try to sell to investors. In that context, the company can be viewed as any other branded consumer retail company.

However, the attraction of the brand is clearly linked to the performance on the pitch and it is probably not a coincidence that Manchester United is looking to do an IPO while it is still basking in the glory of last season’s Premiership win. While the 2011/2012 season started just over a week ago, it will take more than a few months to determine who will be the top contenders this season. ManU, under long-time coach Alex Ferguson, also opened the current season with a 2-1 win in its first match against West Bromwich Albion. It will play its first home game for the season against Tottenham tonight.

A key reason why the Glazers are looking to sell part of the company that owns the team — the Red Football Joint Venture — is to be able to reduce its large debt. That would free up money for player acquisitions so that the team can continue to compete with big-spending UK rivals like Chelsea, owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, and Manchester City, which is backed by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan.

According to its latest available accounts, Red Football JV had £590.4 million of net debt as of June 30, 2010 and it is paying about £45 million per year in interest costs on a £503 million bond that was issued in January 2010 to refinance outstanding bank loans. Most of the debt dates back to the LBO in 2005.

While the size of the IPO has yet to be determined, various media reports have talked about a deal size of about $1 billion and suggested that 25% to 30% of the company will be put up for sale. Sources say such numbers are “in the ballpark”, but stress that much will depend on how global equity markets perform in the weeks ahead.

Asian stockmarkets took another severe beating last Friday after a 3.7% drop in the Dow Jones index in the US overnight. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 3.1%, erasing almost all the gains made since it hit a 12-month low on August 9, and is now down 15.8% year-to-date. Singapore’s benchmark index fell 3.2% to a new 2011 low. The index has lost 14.3% since the beginning of the year. Earlier in the week bankers had argued that investors are still interested in primary market deals as a way to rebuild their exposure and ensure they don’t miss out when the market recovers. But if the increasingly panic-like selling continues and the secondary markets remain under pressure, that could quickly change.

According to sources, Manchester United has an aggressive timetable in mind for its IPO and investor education might start as early as the second half of September. That would suggest the company is aiming to launch a formal roadshow in October, assuming a stock exchange approval is in place by then. In Singapore, it typically takes between four and 10 weeks to secure a listing approval after the application is filed.

The decision to list in Singapore instead of Hong Kong has surprised many commentators. The Hong Kong stockmarket is more liquid than its regional neighbour and, as the largest IPO market in the world, Hong Kong has also attracted quite a few large non-Asia companies to its ranks since early 2010, including global brand names like PradaSamsonite and L’Occitane.

But as it turns out, Singapore was able to offer something that Hong Kong wouldn’t. According to sources, the Glazers want to be able to list shares with different voting power, which is something Hong Kong’s listing rules no longer allow. It is still unclear exactly what kind of share structure the company is planning, but supposedly the current owners want to ensure that they will be able to retain control of the team even if some family members choose to sell. According to one local media report, up to 70% of the company will be owned by Malcolm Glazer and his six children after listing, and their shareholdings could potentially be structured to include a right of first refusal with regard to each others’ stakes. This would be in line with statements earlier this year that the club is not for sale.

It seems Manchester United had sought a waiver from the Hong Kong listing rules to allow some form of differentiated share structure, but the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) is believed to have said no. The rule prohibiting a company from issuing different classes of shares in the same market has been in force for a long time and is intended to protect minority shareholders. Only one major company — Swire Pacific — still has two share classes as a legacy from before this rule was introduced.

Singapore doesn’t have an explicit rule against the issuance of differentiated voting shares, even though it isn’t common practice to do so in that market either. However, some companies do for example have preferential shares listed in Singapore.

The refusal by the HKEx to grant a waiver on this particular issue is interesting and shows that the exchange is not willing to compromise on certain issues to attract international listings. This should give those claiming that international companies are coming to Hong Kong partly because the listing requirements are less stringent some pause for thought. In the long run, this should be positive for the reputation of the Hong Kong market, even though the decision by a major sporting brand like Manchester United to list in Singapore does seem like a big loss right now.

To be sure, there might be other reasons for choosing Singapore, including the fact that the team has a particularly large and active fan-base in Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia. Sources say it also wants the listing to have an Asia focus, as opposed to a China focus, which has been the case for most of the international companies listing in Hong Kong so far.

That it is choosing to list in Asia as opposed to London, where it was previously listed from 1991 to 2005, is not a big surprise, however. Close to 60% of its fans live in Asia and the region is expected to drive the brand’s growth through things like merchandise sales, Manchester United cafes and sponsorship. Asian companies currently sponsoring the team include Singha beer and telecom operators PCCW, Tri Indonesia, Telecom Malaysia and AirTel.

The team also makes regular summer tours to the region and has one Asian player in its main squad in the form of South Korean Ji-sung Park, who has helped to boost the popularity of the team in the region since he signed on in 2005.

Whether it will be able to turn fans into shareholders and, perhaps more importantly, attract investors who support entirely different teams on the pitch or, heaven forbid, might not be interested in football at all, will depend largely on the valuation. The $1 billion deal size speculated in the market last week would value the franchise at $3.3 billion, assuming a public float of 30%. That is significantly above the £790 million ($1.3 billion) that the Glazer buyout valued the team at in 2005 and also well above the $1.6 billion that a group of wealthy supporters, including Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill, were offering to pay a year ago. Turnover has doubled since the Glazers took full control of the team, but the losses have also expanded due to the large interest payments. In the fiscal year to June 2010, Red Football JV reported a pre-tax loss of £108.9 million.

That said, fans have been upset by what they perceive as an unwillingness by the Glazers, who also own American football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to invest enough money to get the best players. Not surprisingly the possibility of an IPO that could free up cash has therefore attracted a lot of attention since the plan leaked last week.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Nostalgic Trip

Found some songs that I particularly liked from the 30s till the 60s, the so called golden era for Shanghai themed / early movies Chinese melodies. Take a trip back to an era when we weren't even around, its so pure and clear, what a wonderful era for music.

Mona Fong's near perfect English diction and exquisite Yeh Lai Siang

Tsin Ting's heart wrenching biggest hit

and my all time favourite from the 30s-60s Chinese songs of yesteryear, by Wu Ying Yin

Friday, August 19, 2011

Who Owns Facebook?

Facebook, looking at planning a $US100 billion IPO next year, is it all froth. The valuations have jumped every other month thanks to bits and pieces being transacted in pre-IPO shares market. To invest in Facebook on sites like SecondMarket or SharesPost you needed to be "qualified as a sophisticated or professional investor" with about $US2.5 million in net tangible assets or $250,000 annual income over the last three years "for a start".

Would I be buying pre-IPO Facebook shares at US$65 billion valuation. My gut feel is YES. There is one Google, and there is one Facebook. I am not saying Facebook will end up with the same valuations as Google, but I think the momentum is there and the shares could go to US$150 billion valuation post IPO. Then I would sell if I had the shares - euphoria is predictable, riding the trend is risky but OK if you can stomach it, but always have in mind the exit strategy.

On its most recent valuation, Facebook has grown by $US15 billion in January to be worth about $US65 billion. Just last June Facebook was worth $US23 billion. The $US65 billion valuation was determined after one of Facebook's early investors, Interpublic, recently sold half of its 0.4 per cent share in the social networking site for $US133 million. But given that Facebook, which now has 750 million users, is a private company, it is difficult for smaller investors to get in. Facebook is widely expected to be preparing for a $US100 billion initial public offering (IPO) next year.

Bono's investment firm Elevation Partners - named after one of U2's famous songs - bought a $US210 million stake in Facebook in November 2009. That stake is now worth $US975 million - a more than fourfold increase. U2 frontman Bono's investment firm has made a profit of almost $US800 million on shares in Facebook in just a few years, but average punters looking to get in before the social network goes public should keep dreaming. 

Mark Zuckerberg

Status: Founder, CEO
Age: 26
Residence: Palo Alto, CA
Education: Two years at Harvard University

Facebook stake: 24%
Value: $20.4 billion

Selected TIME Magazine's "Person of the Year" in 2010, Mark Zuckerberg has been credited for connecting the world via Facebook. Is Zuckerberg the next Global Kingmaker? After Egyptian dictator Hasni Mubarek resigned, a Google executive based in Egypt credited Facebook as the catalyst for the revolution. Last Summer, British Prime Minister David Cameron promoted his video chats with Zuckerberg as evidence that he's a "wired" leader-- go figure. And President Obama's strategists credited Facebook as the foundation for the campaigns' massive youth-vote effort. Raised in Dobbs Ferry, NY, Zuckerberg began writing software while in middle school and by the end of high school, he had co-written a music recommendation program called Synapse Media Player, which Microsoft and AOL reportedly offered Zuckerberg a million dollars to further develop. "Zuck" however turned them down and ran off to attend Harvard. While in his ivy covered Cambridge dorm, Zuckerberg created Facemash, a website that compared students' photos side-by-side in a fashion similar to HOT or After disciplinary action from the school's administration, Zuckerberg shut down Facemash and began "thefacebook," initially only available to Harvard students. Zuckerberg has since defended the site in intellectual property disputes and spurned buyout offers from Viacom, Yahoo! and other suitors. The 26 year old remains CEO of Facebook, and (according to Forbes magazine rankings) is now tied with New York City Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, as the 10th richest person in the U.S.

Accel Partners

Status: Venture Capital Investor
Founded: 1983
Location: Palo Alto, CA

Facebook stake: 15%
Value: $12.75 billion

Though too young to drink alcohol, it must have been the $400 bottle of wine Jim Breyer offered Mark Zuckerberg at a posh Silicon Valley restaurant that helped seal the deal forAccel Partners' $12.7 million investment in Facebook. Breyer, a managing partner at Accel, was hot for a big deal to impress Accel's less than enthusiastic limited partners. Then Associate, now Accel Partner, Kevin Efrusy, got the inside lead on an early stage financing of Facebook by walking up to the firm's Palo Alto offices, uninvited, on April Fool's Day, 2005. Efrusy's due diligence uncovered Stanford users of Facebook who not only used the website, but literally obsessed over it, even missing their classes to "poke" friends. After a week of back and forth that saw another Facebook suitor, the Washington Post, get the cold shoulder, Accel finally nailed a deal that valued Facebook at $98 million. The $12.7 million investment gave the firm a 15% stake, and also included million dollar bonuses for Zuckerberg, Parker and Moskovitz (unusual in a VC round).

Dustin Moskovitz

Status: Former Employee
Age: 26
Residence: San Francisco, CA
Education: Two years at Harvard University

Facebook stake: 6%
Value: $5.1 billion

Man, was this guy lucky to be Mark Zuckerberg's roommate? Currently the youngest U.S. billionaire, Dustin Moskovitz was one of the original founding Facebook cadre. Born in Washington D.C., Moskovitz met his fellow co-founders at Harvard University in 2004 where they developed the social networking site from their dorm room. Moskovitz was an economics major before dropping out of college to relocate to Palo Alto, CA to work on Facebook full-time. Credited as both Vice President of Engineering and Chief Technology Officer, Moskovitz led the technical staff, oversaw the major architecture of the site, and was responsible for the company's mobile strategy and development. He left Facebook in 2008 to start Asana, a company that builds project management software to help companies collaborate. Moskovitz was able to garner the title of "United States Youngest Billionaire" over Mark Zuckerberg because he is eight days younger than his fellow co-founder.

Digital Sky Technologies

Status: Corporate InvestorFounded: 2005
Location: Moscow, London

Facebook stake: 5%
Value: $4.25 billion

Russian Internet holding company, Digital Sky, grabbed 1.96% of Facebook stock in May of 2009 when it spent $200 million at a $10 billion valuation. Digital Sky, which is largely backed by a wealthy Russian oligarch, is the owner of Facebook clone VKontakte, the largest social network in Russia. Under the direction of Managing Partner, Yuri Milner (pictured), Digital Sky has also amassed sizeable positions in Zynga and Groupon, and is reportedly in talks to buy a substantial stake in Twitter. DST followed its initial stake in Facebook with large block purchases of stock from existing Facebook shareholders and employees. Digitial Sky also joined Goldman Sachs in 2010 for the investment bank's multi-hundred million investment round, with DST ponying up $50 million for yet another .1% of the firm (at a $50 billion valuation). DST's total stake position is approximately 5%.

Eduardo Saverin

Status: Former Employee
Age: 28
Residence: Miami, FL
Education: BA/BS, Harvard University

Facebook stake: 5%
Value: $4.25 billion

One of the three original founders of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin was a Harvard classmate of Mark Zuckerberg. Acting as the business partner of "The Facebook," in 2004, Saverin concentrated on developing advertiser relationships while Zuckerberg focused on product development. When Facebook moved its operations to Palo Alto and Sean Parker gained more influence, Saverin ended up on the losing side of a power struggle. Initially granted a 30% stake in Facebook, Saverin's position was whittled down as institutional investment rounds diluted his shares. Saverin was born in São Paulo, Brazil to a wealthy Brazilian Jewish family and was raised in Miami, Florida, the state where he initially incorporated Facebook. In 2006, Saverin graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a B.A. in Economics, and is currently living in Singapore. Saverin has been spreading his bucks around and is a major investor in a new social network called Qwiki, as well as Jumio, an online and mobile payment product.

Sean Parker

Status: Former Employee
Age: 31
Residence: San Francisco, CA
Education: High School Graduate,
Oakton High School,VA

Facebook stake: 4%
Value: $3.4 billion

Part tech genius, part bad-boy, Sean Parker has displayed uncanny foresight and comprehension of Internet business strategy. However, his fondness for hard partying and run-ins with the law have also left him as the odd-man out in business ventures. At the age of 16, Parker's Virginia home was raided by the FBI when he was caught hacking systems of Fortune 500 companies. In 1999, at the age of 19, he co-founded the file sharing (and wrong-side-of -copyright-law) music service, Napster. At a trendy Chinese restaurant in New York in 2004, Parker met Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and became a mentor and advisor to the rising entrepreneur. Much like Napster, Parker was able to foresee Facebook's success and societal contributions only months into its inception. Acting as the company's first President, Parker negotiated a deal with Facebook's first investors Peter Thiel and Accel Partners, giving Zuckerberg absolute control of the board of directors. Ousted from Facebook in 2005 for a drug-related arrest, Parker went on to become Managing Partner of Founders Fund, a San Francisco-based venture capital shop. Parker still acts as an informal advisor to Zuckerberg.

Peter Thiel

Status: Angel Investor,
Member of Board of Directors
Age: 43
Residence: San Francisco, CA
Education: JD, Stanford University

Facebook stake: 3%
Value: $2.55 billion

"Just don't f**k it up," is what Peter Thiel told Mark Zuckerberg when the two finalized Thiel's investment in the cash-strapped startup, according to Facebook chronicler David Kirkpatrick. In late 2004, Thiel became Facebook's first significant outside investor when he put up $500,000. Initially structured as a loan, the financing later converted to a 10.2% equity stake in the company. Born in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, and raised in Foster City, California, Peter Thiel has been credited for launching and/or funding some of the most innovative startups of the last decade including PaypalYouTube, and LinkedIn. Thiel maintains a seat on Facebook's board of directors and, in addition, serves as president of Clarium Capital, a hedge fund, and is a Managing Partner of VC firm, The Founders Fund. Thiel is known for being a package of contradictions due to the fact that he is a gay, Christian, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, libertarian, lawyer who, in 2010, launched theThiel Fellowship, offering $100,000 in cash to aspiring entrepreneurs under the age of 20 to drop out of school and pursue their business endeavors. Due to selloffs and dilutions, Thiel's original stake in Facebook has been reduced to 3%.


Status: Corporate Investor
Founded: 1975
Location: Seattle, WA

Facebook stake: 1.6%
Value: $1.36 billion

Beaten in search by Google, and wary of Google's acquisitions in web video (YouTube) and banner advertising (Doubleclick) , Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (pictured) was willing to do whatever necessary to get in bed with Facebook, and seal the Seattle software goliath's foray into Web 2.0. Though interested in acquiring Facebook outright, an idea Zuckerberg nixed, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) opted for a complicated arrangement that included an advertising partnership and a small stake in the social network. Microsoft invested $240 million in the Fall of 2007 at what appeared to be a nosebleed $15 billion valuation, which garnered Ballmer a 1.6% position. Eager that the investment not appear inflated, Microsoft welcomed the participation of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing in the Series D round. Terms also precluded Google from making an investment in Facebook. The deal looked pitiful when DST bought a larger stake at a $10 billion valuation less than a year later. However, Facebook's current $75 billion valuation means Microsoft's stake in privately-held Facebook has outperformed its own publicly-traded stock 5x.

Greylock Partners

Status: Venture Capital Investor
Founded: 1965
Location: Menlo Park, CA; Cambridge, MA

Facebook stake: 1.5%
Value: $1.275 billion

One of the oldest VC firms in the country, Greylock got its piece of the world's hottest tech company by getting in on Facebook's $27.5 million Series C round. Meritech Capital Partners also participated in the financing along with existing investors Peter Thiel and Accel, who chipped in additional funds. With this financing Facebook was valued at over $500 million, five times the amount when Accel first invested. Greylock, founded in 1965, traces its roots to founders Bill Elfers and Dan Gregory, who both worked at the country's first institutional venture capital firm, American Research & Development, in Boston.

Meritech Partners 

Status: Venture Capital Investor
Founded: 1999
Location: Palo Alto, CA

Facebook stake: 1.5%
Value: $1.275 billion

Meritech Capital Partners gained its Facebook shares by participating in the company's $27.5 million Series C round. Joining Meritech in the transaction were Greylock, Accel and Angel investor Peter Thiel, with the round valuing Facebook at over $500 million. Meritech Capital Partners was founded in 1999 in partnership with Accel Partners, Oak Investment PartnersRedpoint Ventures and Worldview Technology Partners, and currently manages more than $2.2 billion in capital.

Elevation Partners

Status: Venture Capital Investor
Founded: 2004
Location: Menlo Park, CA

Facebook stake: 1.5%
Value: $1.275 billion

Once pilloried with the moniker "world's dumbest VC investor," Elevation Partners may shut up some of its critics with its stealthy purchases of Facebook stock. Using markets designed to provide liquidity for privately-held shares, Elevation has reportedly cobbled together a 7.5 million share position. Its $210 million investment aggregated shares when the valuation of Facebook was $14 billion. Not too shabby for the firm whose high-profile investments in Palm and Forbes Magazine deflated rather than elevated. Elevation, which sports U2 rocker Bono as an investment partner, manages $1.9 billion.


The Leakers - Helmed by the often brilliant Herman Yau Nai Hoi (whom I believe was from Malaysia who became a great success in HK films). 7...