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Sevens fans keep their eye on the bill

Despite investment banks' profits being under pressure, with share prices on the slide, bonuses and jobs being slashed and a general state of panic and insecurity throughout the industry, all the major banks will still be shelling out for a box or suite at this month's CSFB-sponsored Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.

Many of the global banks have signed up to HK$1.2 million (US$154,000) three-year contracts for air-conditioned glass-fronted suites. Others are paying US$20,000 for smaller areas for the weekend.

Most surprisingly, Indosuez WI Carr, defunct since November 2001, will still have a suite this year. However, unlike the avid French supporters, one bank has dropped out this year - HypoVereinsbank, Singapore. But as one banker says: "Well, they are German, so what do they know about rugby anyway?" Probably just as much as the US house Salomon Smith Barney, which has taken a suite every year since 1997.

But in a sign of the cost cutting times, it's rumoured that banks are unhappy about the money they are being asked to fork out on catering from Holiday Inn Golden Mile, which has the exclusive serving rights.

Two years ago nobody batted an eyelid at the price for the food and drink described by one broker as "varying between OK-ish to crap".

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