Chairman of Hong Kong's Largest Property Firm Ousted By Claudia Blume
Hong Kong
02 June 2008

Hong Kong's largest property firm has ousted its chairman, after a high-profile family feud. And, Cambodia has become the first country in Asia to lift a ban on rice exports. From Hong Kong, Claudia Blume has more on these and other business stories from the Asia-Pacific region.
Hong Kong's Sun Hung Kai Properties has replaced its chairman and chief executive, Walter Kwok, with his mother, Kwong Siu-hing. The action came after he lost a court battle with his younger brothers, Thomas and Raymond, who are both vice chairmen of Hong Kong's largest property firm. A high court judge turned down Walter Kwok's application for a permanent injunction order to prevent the company's board from voting on his removal.
Walter Kwok's lawyer, Ronny Tong, says his client exhausted all legal channels open to stop the vote.
"The court of appeal has delivered its judgment. We respect that judgment," he said. "I think there will be no further applications for injunctions. There is always the possibility that the matter can be resolved amicably. We have always taken the position that we are willing to negotiate and that has been the position since day one."
Cambodia has lifted a temporary ban on rice exports. The government introduced the ban in March, in a bid to halt the staple food's spiraling prices, which reached a record high of almost $1 per kilo on the local market this year. The ban followed similar moves by Vietnam and India.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen says the country has enough rice for its own needs and that export of the surplus will help reduce concerns of other countries about supplies of rice.
The Philippines - one of the world's largest rice importers - has been particularly affected by dwindling stocks and rising prices of the commodity. To ensure food sufficiency, the government has placed a two-year ban on the conversion of rice farms to other uses. The ban is expected to impact real estate developers and corporate farms looking for areas to grow higher-value crops.
Foreign companies have pledged to invest more than $15 billion in Vietnam, in the first five months of this year. This is more than double the amount of foreign direct investment the country attracted in the same period, last year. More than 300 projects have been licensed, so far this year. The biggest one is a $4,2 billion casino and tourism complex that a Canadian investor will build in southern Vietnam.
Australia's Qantas Airline said it will cut its capacity by five percent to cope with soaring fuel prices. The airline will cut routes, ax jobs and ground several planes.
Despite spiraling prices for fuel, the net profit of Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia went up 86 percent in the first quarter. Profits rose to $50 million, in the three months. AirAsia says higher passenger volume contributed to the positive result. Passenger numbers in the first quarter increased by 21 percent, to 2.6 million.