An American Investment Banker Bamboozled by China

The Silicon Hutong Suite
Holiday Inn Darling Harbour
Sydney, Australia
2200 hrs

If you haven’t seen enough train wrecks today switch over to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s showing of “The Men Who Would Conquer China.” Mark Bakal, New York investment banker who made his name and fortune revitalizing former state-owned assets in former communist countries.

It’s a ton of fun to watch Bakal swoop into China with the tactics and toolkits honed in eastern Europe, where regimes had collapsed leaving enterprises with little alternative but to sell, and try to bully and cajole organizations like the Bank of China into doing business his way.

It’s a blast to watch his designated Hong Kong “partner” (read “compradore”) squire him around to meet and greet with very senior officials, only to have Bakal come across as patronizing and condescending, embarrassing.

It’s a delight to see this guy, who is supposedly a millionaire, fly from New York to Hong Kong squeezed into coach and then refuse to put up $1,000 for his share of the company setup costs.

Not to mention his inability to say “Nanjing Lu.”

He makes SO many mistakes that I can’t keep up. Check it out, though. Ranks up there with Mr. China as a warning to all of those folks who buy the hype and figure they can just parachute into China and make millions.