Thursday 7 June 2012

Balloon Face And Balloon Heads

Phoebe Chan (left) with model Elaine Chin, who is wearing a wedding dress made of balloons. Photo: Nora Tam

Phoebe Chan Kin-pui is one of only four certified balloon artists in Hong Kong. And apparently she has "rankled some clowns and party entertainers, who claim she is taking away their clients".

I just think her face looks like a balloon; colourful and bursting with happiness!

While I'm at it, Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing has a balloon head; hugely inflated and bursting with billions!

 Li Ka Shing Balloon Head

Mr Mackey from South Park

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Here comes the bride, with 300 balloons (SCMP; paywall)
Jennifer Cheng
May 26, 2012    

Of all the ways to take your vows with wows, few could match walking down the aisle in a wedding dress made of balloons.

And in Hong Kong, where weddings are no small affairs, brides-to-be seeking that extra lift are looking to Phoebe Chan Kin-pui.

It's an idea that's certainly taking off around the world - a wedding gown worn by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton (whose parents built a fortune in the party supply trade), is said to have inspired a copy made with 5,000 balloons by a British artist.

Chan, 38, is one of only four certified balloon artists in Hong Kong - and these are no inflated qualifications, as aspirants have to sit written, oral and practical examinations.

And just in case you think a balloon artist is some sort of shrinking violet, Chan's "day job" involves teaching construction workers how to handle building machinery safely. Her balloon artist "studio" is in the workshop among the shovels and concrete mixers and pneumatic drills of her training institute.

Chan's talent with balloons was recognised in March when she was named New Artist of the Year at the 2012 World Balloon Convention in Dallas, Texas. Her dresses and decorative arrangements have won prizes in Belgium, Japan and Malaysia.

"Balloon art is actually really easy, and you can feel accomplished quickly after creating something in a short time," the self-taught artist said. "It takes me six hours to weave a dress, but can you imagine how long it would take to knit a garment that size with yarn?"

She took up balloon art two years ago after watching a television show on it with her two young children.

Now she offers balloon art classes - sometimes free - for special groups.

Chan's stellar rise as a balloon artist has rankled some clowns and party entertainers, who claim she is taking away their clients. Chan uses about 300 balloons to make a dress, and has received many orders.

"The reason my dresses are so popular is because they are formfitting. While other designers in the world just slip the dress over their models' heads, I design the dress to be so tight that it presses into the flesh, which narrows the waist."

She said her balloon dresses can be kept for up to a week, but can only be worn once. "The dress is all for photos and memories."

Chan is also negotiating to design costumes for a major male pop star to wear at his concerts next month.

Li Ka-shing spells out sons' futures (SCMP; paywall)
Asia's richest man to split business empire in a way that should prevent conflict
May Chan
May 26, 2012    
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Li Ka-shing, Asia's richest man, yesterday spelled out a succession plan to split his business empire between his two sons in a way he said would ensure no conflict between them.

Li (pictured) said that elder son Victor Li Tzar-kuoi would take the helm of property group Cheung Kong (Holdings) (SEHK: 0001) and conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa (SEHK: 0013).

"As for my other son [Richard Li Tzar-kai], there are some things that he is very interested in. He will have my full support … now that he has already owned several sizeable companies.

"The asset values of the businesses that he owns will go up several times over, so he will also have a very successful career.

"And there will be no conflict among their businesses."

Li Ka-shing, who turns 84 next month, was rated last year by Forbes magazine as the ninth-richest person in the world - as well as Asia's richest - with an estimated wealth of US$25.5 billion.

He told a press conference yesterday after the annual meetings of Cheung Kong and Hutchison that younger son Richard was in talks with "several sizeable companies" for acquisitions in industries outside the business scope of Cheung Kong and Hutchison. He said they were not media or entertainment businesses, but were "long-term" businesses that Richard liked.

Victor would own more than 40 per cent of Cheung Kong, his father said, and 35.5 per cent of Husky Energy, a Canadian oil company.

Li Ka-shing said he had "no plans" to retire, but had thought out the succession plan for a long time.

Victor, who was also at the press conference, said he was happy with his father's decision. Victor has been managing director at Cheung Kong and deputy chairman at Hutchison for more than 10 years.

Richard, who is not on the board of either company, was not available for comment. He left Hutchison in 2000 to focus on building his own business empire. He is chairman of PCCW (SEHK: 0008), the biggest telecommunications company in Hong Kong.

Based on Cheung Kong's closing share price of HK$91.50 yesterday, the company's market capitalisation stands at HK$211.93 billion, making Li Ka-shing's stake worth at least HK$83.56 billion.

Husky Energy was worth about C$22.84 billion (HK$172.84 billion) based on Thursday's closing price, valuing his stake at C$8.11 billion.

The 40 per cent stake in Cheung Kong, which owns 49.97 per cent of Hutchison, effectively gives Victor control of the conglomerate. Hutchison closed at HK$66.55 yesterday, giving it a market capitalisation of HK$283.73 billion.

Shares in Cheung Kong and Hutchison that Li Ka-shing has bought over the past two years will go into the Li Ka Shing Foundation, a charity that will be overseen by both Richard and Victor upon their father's retirement.

The foundation also owns shares in Facebook.

Hutchison boasts the world's biggest port and telecommunications operations, in 14 countries. Its activities also span infrastructure, retailing and property development.

Li Ka-shing remains upbeat about Hutchison's earnings prospects, despite global uncertainty as a result of the euro zone crisis. He also said he was optimistic about business opportunities in Europe.

"We definitely won't decrease our investment in Hong Kong," he said, when asked whether Hutchison would make further acquisitions in Europe. We want to invest in Hong Kong as long as it can provide us with a harmonious macro-environment. If not, we go invest somewhere else, overseas."

Li, who voted for Henry Tang Ying-yen instead of winner Leung Chun-ying in this year's elections for Hong Kong chief executive, refused to comment on Leung. But he said the chief executive-elect must prove that he could protect the Basic Law (the city's mini-constitution) and Hong Kong's core values, including the rule of law and freedom.

He also said he welcomed policies to solve housing problems facing low-income groups in the city, but said he hoped the government would maintain a stable land supply.

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