Joshua Wong demonstrates leadership qualities in Hong Kong’s political struggles

August 5, 2015

Umbrella MovementThis week [August 2nd, 2015] Western media reported further rumbles of protest from Hong Kong against the proposed electoral system being introduced from mainland China. Hong Kong’s student activist Joshua Wong examines the impact of The Umbrella Movement, and shows characteristics associated with other political revolutionaries

Last year [September-December 2014] a series of protests broke out against proposed reforms to the Hong Kong electoral system. The fundamental objection was to what was seen as Government control over acceptance of candidates for Hong Kong elections. Earlier student activist groups coalesced into a wider group which became known as The Umbrella Movement. The protests against a governing power is reminiscent of those in Singapore as it negotiated its liberation from Malaysia fifty years ago.

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The Lenovo Juggernaut Rolls on Unabated

June 10, 2014

Dr Pikay Richardson

Chinese personal-computer maker Lenovo Group is looking to acquisition to fuel further growth. The company has great ambitions, and cash to fund its plans. Will it be able to balance innovation and efficiency?

Lenovo recently concluded two deals worth collectively about $5bn. The company has acquired IBM’s low-end server business for $2.3bn and from Google, Motorola Mobility handset operations for $2.9bn. Both were seen as Lenovo’s efforts to diversify beyond PCs into other faster growing areas of the computer industry.

Growing through acquisitions

Lenovo’s foray into other business segments was not entirely surprising. Having beaten HP to become the world’s largest PC maker by shipments, it has been looking for new sources of growth, mainly in smart phones and servers and storage systems. “We will continue to use acquisitions as a means to grow”, Lenovo Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing said after a shareholders meeting in Hong Kong. “Wherever there is a good opportunity, we will grasp it”.

The company has great ambitions, and an extra cash store to match. After paying $4.7bn, it still has $2bn on hand, according to Wang Wai Ming, Lenovo’s chief financial officer. What is more, the current low-interest environment provides opportunity to raise further funds, which Lenovo is considering, according to Mr Wang.

Lenovo’s strong corporate governance regime

Investor confidence is high. On 21st May, Lenovo announced its full-year results in Hong Kong where it has been listed since 1994. Its revenues were 14% higher than the year before, at $38.7bn, while pre-tax profits topped over $1bn for the first time in its history, up 27% on the year before. But this is only part of what is causing the investor euphoria. The other is that, Lenovo unusually for a Chinese Company, claims a strong corporate governance regime, as well as consistently delivering predictable returns.

Lenovo’s ability to turn around the controversial $2.9bn purchase of Motorola Mobility has been questioned. The pioneer mobile phone has fallen on hard times, but Mr Yang has responded to skepticism by saying that he was confident his company will be able to turn around the unprofitable business in four to six quarters, based on a strategy of increasing economies of scale rather than trimming staff.

From losers to treasures

“We have a good track record of turning around money-losing businesses into treasure”, he said, pointing to Lenovo’s first foray into foreign markets when it bought IBM’s loss-making PC business in 2005. Few believed then that an obscure Chinese company could save a Western premium brand, but this is precisely what Lenovo has done. Yang went on “Lenovo is the best company in the world when it comes to balancing innovation and efficiency.”

Whether or not this claim is sustainable is more a matter of “wait and see”.


News International Update

April 25, 2012

The fate of Rupert Murdoch’s business empire continues to attract attention globally. Leaders we deserve is providing regular updates, as the Leveson Enquiry in the UK into Government and news media relations continues

Updates

This post will be updated regularly. Earlier LWD posts include:

The Murdoch meltdown
The closure of The News of the World
The business model of Rupert Murdoch

May 12th

Leveson enquiry continues to attract media attention with Rebekah Brooks, the former Sun editor, taking the stand at the Leveson enquiry. The BBC asks whether she have been treated differently if she had she been a “grumpy old man of Fleet Street”

Her testimony suggests that the Government will face more political problems from the stories produced through the enquiry which was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron. These appear to leave the spotlight on culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, as well as Mr Cameron’s own relationship with the former Sun editor.

May 10th

Selective amnesia and his status as someone on bail in connection with phone hacking hinder evidence to Leveson from Andy Coulson

Independent newspaper suggests Coulson’s evidence ‘leaves toughest questions at Prime Minister’s door’.

Personal view [TR notes for LWD]:

Coulson at times showed a grasp of the unspoken implications of questioning as well as more generally as someone thoroughly cautious and well-prepared with a few key points to make (no conspiracy; was not hired to influence Robert Murdoch’s political decisions.

May 9th

Story picks up as Leveson enquiry resumes. David Cameron’s closeness to Rebekah Brooks is not particularly new.

May 3rd 2012

BskyB distances itself from its major shareholder News Corporation in a statement from its chief executive Jeremy Darroch.

May 2nd 2012

Select committee finds Rupert Murdoch unfit to run News International. James Murdoch is also severely criticised.

Committee appears to have exceeded its brief, particularly with the most damning criticism, where voting occurred along partisan lines.

The Washington Post notes:

The parliamentary report issued Tuesday [Ist May 2012] was far harsher than most British observers had expected. It was approved by a 6 to 4 vote, with the four members from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party staunchly objecting to the description of Murdoch as an unfit proprietor.

April 30th

The former First Minister of Scotland Jack McConnell reported as political target of phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s News International.

Jeremy Hunt ‘On probation’ by Prime Minister’s statement.

April 29th

Telegraph reports Cameron could fire Hunt if new evidence emerges.

April 28th

Leveson rejects Government plans to review Jeremy Hunt’s conduct over BSkyB bid saying “It’s not my problem”

April 27th

The Guardian: Rupert Murdoch’s evidence to the Leveson inquiry was like one of his tabloids: a lively mixture of accurate and inaccurate reporting, one-eyed comment and total fantasy.

Sky News, itself part of the story reports on Simon Hughes’ call for an investigation into Jeremy Hunt’s conduct during BskyB takeover bid.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that George Osborne is facing questions over whether he was lobbied by Rupert Murdoch and played a role in supporting News Corp’s attempted £8bn takeover of BSkyB.

April 26th Murdoch

Two inter-related stories today. In Parliament, Jeremy Hunt defended his ‘quasi-judicial’ role in the BskyB bid by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Mr Murdoch appears before the Leveson enquiry into Media ethics.

The BBC reports Rupert Murdoch’s witness statement

The Independent sees the Jeremy Hunt story as “a toxic trail” leading from Jeremy Hunt to the Prime Minister’s involvement in the Murdoch bid for B Sky B.

The Scotsman: Cameron admits “we all did too much cosying up” to The Murdochs.

April 25th 2012

The BBC continues its reporting of the Leveson enquiry with a ‘What the papers say’ review.

The Daily Telegraph examines the testimony of James Murdoch [24th April 2012] to the enquiry concluding that the Government’s relations with the Murdochs are coming under close scrutiny and ‘revealing a lack of candour’

The Guardian focuses on another close political relationship: between Rupert Murdoch and Alex Salmond

April 23rd 2012

Lord Patten tells Leveson enquiry:

Plainly, Mr Murdoch took the view that publishing a book which was critical of the Chinese leadership would not improve his chances [of expanding his business interests in China] , so he instructed HarperCollins to drop the book on the grounds that [the book] was no good”.

Image

Image of Rupert Murdoch is from livetradingnews.com


Chaleo Yoovidhya, Red Bull magnate, dies aged 89

March 20, 2012

Chaleo Yoovidhya, the inventor of the Red Bull energy drink, started his business career with a product for keeping his long-distance drivers awake

The creator of Red Bull, who became one of the world’s richest men thanks to the success of the fizzy, caffeine-laden drink, died yesterday [17th March, 2012] in Bangkok of natural causes. Chaleo Yoovidhya was 89.

His career acquired wings

Chaleo’s entrepreneurial career acquired wings and soared to success. In that respect it was symbolised in the subsequent cartoon-like advertising of his famous energy product, Red Bull.

Wired in

A source close to LWD talks of the significance of the product for her business associates: “Some of them seem wired into a diet of Red Bull, chocolate and coffee” she told LWD

Chaelo’s origins

The Thai billionaire came from poor origins in the northern province of Phichit, moving to Bangkok in search of work. Showing entrepreneurial flair, he found work as a salesman before starting his own pharmaceuticals company which appears to have drawn on Eastern and Western pharmaceutical knowledge.

Career outline

The Independent outlined his career:

One of his products was a tonic drink aimed at keeping factory workers and truck drivers awake through long shifts. Called Krating Daeng – Thai for Red Bull – the mixture of water, sugar, caffeine, taurine, inositol and B vitamins provided the inspiration for what is now the world’s biggest-selling energy drink.

The Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz discovered Krating Daeng on a sales trip to Asia in 1982. According to the company’s website, He tracked down Mr Yoovidhya and the two men became business partners, setting up the Red Bull company two years later in an attempt to take the Thai drink to an international market. In 1987, Red Bull was launched in Austria. Twenty-five years on, it is sold in more than 79 countries.

Thanks to the soaring sales of the drink, Mr Yoovidhya became the world’s 205th richest man, with a fortune of £5bn.
Showing no lack of energy himself, he married twice, and had 11 children, five from his first wife and six from his second. Today, [18th March 2012] Mr Yoovidhya’s family will start a week-long series of traditional Buddhist rites at a monastery west of Bangkok.

Entrepreneurial innovation

The trajectory of the innovation is a familiar one in stories of entrepreneurial success. The entrepreneur draws on local knowledge of market needs, and learns of the pharmaceutical properties of local products. He applies his knowhow to address a corporate need (keeping his truckers alert). He accepts the offer of an international partnership showing business flair.

It is not a trajectory that is easily replicated from the laboratories of the global pharmaceutical giants.

Acknowledgement

To Thaivisa.com for image of Mr Yoovidhya and local biographic knowledge.