NYtimes.com had an article yesterday about a new website called ICorrect which lets well-known people and organisations correct ‘any lies, misinformation and misrepresentations that permeate in cyberspace.’
Launched by Sir David Tang, who founded the luxury chain Shanghai Tang and sold it to Richemont in 2006, ICorrect has the likes of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Sienna Miller and Cherie Blair paying $1000 a year to rebut gossip, fact-check Wikipedia and disavow spurious tweets. Companies like Chelsea FC pay $5000 for the privilege.
Standing out amidst former supermodels is John Bond, Vodafone’s outgoing chairman and the new chairman at Xstrata.
As chairman of HSBC, Bond led a $46 bn acquisition binge, including paying $14.6 bn for US consumer finance firm Household International in 2003, not long before he moved on to Vodafone. Household ended up costing HSBC billions in sub-prime losses and is blamed for many of bank’s financial woes. By early 2009, HSBC has today written off the entire $10.5 bn of remaining goodwill and taken another $16 bn of write-downs on the business.
Bond used ICorrect to respond to a fairly benign assertion by the Evening Standard that the ‘deal was seen to harm a reputation built up over 45 years at HSBC.’ (Others have been much harsher.)
He pointed out that ‘a significant part of the losses came from businesses started after the acquisition’ then went on to boast about China investments that outweighed the Household losses. As an HSBC director, he saw the bank’s market cap go from $4.5 bn to $200 bn (today it’s at around $185 bn).
In another entry on ICorrect, Bond corrected several wrong facts on Wikipedia, including shaving a year off his age (he was born in July 1941, not 1940).
So forget about HSBC’s $15.6 bn sub-prime losses by mid-2008. Just don’t dare say Bond is any older than 69.