Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong 1986 – 1995

…My start in Hong Kong was in October 1986, two years after I opened the doors of my own business in Perth. No reason to celebrate and therefore I got my head down and started to look at what needed to be done in IFB Hong Kong…

…the news that she wanted a divorce. It was not unexpected so I agreed with the understanding that I would sign over everything I had but I would not entertain any regular alimony in future. The only other important point was access to my children and on that point we both had the same goal – to make it easier for the kids. The official papers were signed and sealed; I was once again a very poor man who basically had two suitcases with clothing on arrival in Hong Kong and nothing else to his name…

… I could not satisfy myself in providing a reasonable return on the investment he made in hiring me, and it became very uncomfortable for me. After eight months with IFB, I pushed myself to pick up the phone and call Rhenus. The simple question was to find out if they would be still interested in hiring me…

…I had to visit Germany on a business trip and was asked to spend two days in London in order to represent the Lions Club of Hong Kong at the annual ball where the finalists of the Miss China contest would be presented and the winner announced. I was to join a panel of five judges to have a good look at the ladies and give points so that a winner could be established. Ok, no problem with that I thought, let’s do it….

 

Hong Kong The Lottery of Life

…How can you talk to twenty-five contestants in one hour even if you would love to? Mission impossible! All were eager to talk, hoping to persuade you to vote for them. Everyone wanted to be crowned and win the prize….

… Well, here was the lady herself. Since I did not work for GG anymore I could at least indulge in looking at Rosita. Gentleman as I was I did not act in any way which could give cause to her co-workers to start rumours about her…

…Several concerts later and some months had passed before we actually went out to have a small meal and had a simple drink in one of the hotel lounges listening to some live Filipino band on a Saturday afternoon…

 

… The planned meeting with the Stinnes Board took place in a posh hotel adjacent to the harbour on Kowloon side. We had to prepare our reports, figures to dazzle and plans to explain how we would keep filling the coffers of Stinnes. The meeting room was dark, the curtains closed tightly, and executives tried hard to sound and look professional in explaining away their bad results. Plenty of reasons were given, it was all very heart wrenching…

…The evening went a bit better. I had organised some business contacts and squeezed Deutsche Bank into lending us their Chinese junk for an excursion by sea from Central to Aberdeen around Hong Kong Island. After a great seafood meal on Lamma Island everybody was totally relaxed, maybe even intoxicated and when Dr. Knauer asked me why we did not have our own junk to do this more often with customers…

…After the political part was finally over we got down to what this trip was supposed to be about. Investment was needed desperately in Vietnam. Some 200 projects had been earmarked for which overseas investment would be approved. Mostly infrastructure replacements but also strategic factories were offered for investment but that was no gift. Bring your own money, invest and build and take the total risk…

.. . But a foundation had been laid. I do believe that a number of the Taiwanese manufactures from that group later started shoe factories and textile manufacturing in Vietnam as costs in Taiwan were getting far out of hand for those products…

…I had been in Hong Kong nearly three years and thought it was time to make more permanent arrangements for my life with Rosita. A date was set for the wedding after her family consulted various wise people to make sure we would not strike an unlucky month or day….

… Projects are not constant business; they provide the cream on the coffee but you needed to have the coffee first. That is why we concentrated on our day-to-day business first, looked after the small but lucrative exhibition business in China and now it was time to take the next step…

…  Nearby was a village and the power lines from a substation were hanging over the road we needed to travel on. It was strung too low to travel under it and would have to be propped up. With 11 kVA power in that line we would need to switch off supply to the village for a couple of hours so we would not light up the poor guy pushing the line up with bamboo poles…

… In the back of the hotel they had to dig holes for foundations and the ground was granite. Not to waste time they just drilled a few holes, stuck some explosive in and bang, their job was halved. In that process whole chunks of rock flew all over the place and hit the wooden boarding on our windows at regular intervals…

…Job done; the vessel departed early morning and left us sleepy-eyed on the wharf contemplating our next move. Breakfast! Merry Christmas!..

…The whole takeover of Schenker by Stinnes took a long time and apart from rumours we did not hear anything about the future…

…Mergers are an upsetting phenomenon; it is not who buys what, it is why who buys whom. Stinnes did not think that Rhenus would be a way to grow quickly enough and that is why they took over Schenker. Makes sense to me but I was still told we should operate as usual which most likely was just a way of stalling decisions and making sure profits were coming in from both sides…

…The Lottery of Life gave me quite a few choices. Which ticket to draw? The Schenker board was instructed by Stinnes to make sure to look after me. Maybe I had some different ideas of what “looking after me” was supposed to mean but had to deal with the suggestions provided…

…What else was there to do but accept the offer and get ready as I was due to start in Jakarta on 1st October 1995?...