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Opinion

HSBC: Party Sevens – banking on the loos working

The 40th renewal of the Hong Kong Sevens was a welcome triumph for its lead sponsor, HSBC.

Hong Kong Sevens R-600

Played out against a background of blue skies and bright sunshine, with 120,000 people watching the games over three days, it put smiles back on the faces of executives that have been having a tough time in their other domestic market of the UK in recent weeks.

Banks of course were out in force, although some more than others. One box-hopper was amazed to walk into the RBS executive box in the middle of Saturday afternoon, generally the busiest time of the whole weekend, to find just two people in it. We knew Ross McEwan was cutting staff in Asia, but perhaps not to that extent.

Some bankers were looking weary, and not just because of the long days and nights 'entertaining clients' at the event. One senior exec was visiting from London. He was woken up at 4am by the receptionist at his luxury hotel in Central. "We have a young gentleman here who says he belongs to you, sir," he was told. The young gentleman in question was his 19-year old son, who after a long night out had forgotten that he was actually staying with friends in another part of the city.

Strangely inappropriate

The traditional Saturday afternoon live music slot was performed by 1970s disco act The Village People. This was probably a boon for bankers keen to show off their LGBT credentials, as well as their coordinated arm-dance moves. But the band's famous anthem, Go West, seemed strangely inappropriate given how many revellers had flown east from the UK to attend the weekend.

The main headline was the victory of perennial sevens over-achievers Fiji at the climax of the weekend. But the big talking point was the total collapse of the lavatory system on the executive floors of the stadium on Saturday. Loos simply would not flush. It was, perhaps, an apt metaphor for the liquidity issues affecting many parts of the financial system today.

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