Evil Knievil: Sympathy for the devil

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Evil Knievil: Sympathy for the devil

In or about 1980 my father published Philip of Macedon at the start of which he pointed out that whilst empire is broadly inevitable democracy is a greater good. It’s a point that many soft-headed folk (the majority) do not grasp. What here follows illustrates my personal experience of China in practice even if it must be stressed that there is no statistical significance to the matters laid out. Equally, no other country has been giving me grief.

Sixteen years ago I joined the board, albeit for only nine months, of a gold explorer working in Tajikistan. Events moved at a snail’s pace until, eventually, the Chinese turned up. Their company was and still is known as China Non-Ferrous. They took control of the gold exploring company through their vehicle China Non-Ferrous Gold (CNG) and set out to develop what has proved to be a serious mine. The problem is that major works and contracts are attended to by other subsidiaries of China Non-Ferrous. The effect is that minority shareholders of CNG have little prospect of a dividend. Since the getting of dividends was the whole point of establishing Kryso, the name which eventually turned into CNG, this is extremely frustrating. I understand that the cost overruns imposed by CNF are startlingly needless.

The Chinese know what they are doing. For instance, they have the whip hand in controlling a road from eastern Tajikistan round down to the Afghan border. The Tajiks are heavily in debt to the Chinese who can, virtually in an instant, put tens of thousands of troops to use. The Taleban would have no chance.

I mention all this since, elsewhere in my business affairs, I have lately encountered a pair of examples of Chinese impropriety. The first is a copyright action in Paris where the accused are Chinese. So far, they have not paid up. And the second is a rather footling attempt by a Chinese gentleman to misuse the name of my elder daughter’s business. As a result, I have had to instruct the person in question to cease and desist from this behaviour and to account for historical events. So far, he has not complied.

Much to my surprise, I find myself extending sympathy to that deceitful and supreme oaf, Trump. He knows what America is up against and proposes to do something about it now. The sad fact is that the conduct of the Chinese government can morph into military adventures which we might all regret. Certainly, our so-called colleagues in the EU have not got a clue as to what to do.

Further, we are currently engaged in paying the salaries of the Durham police force and their pals in the BBC and Channel 4 News. There’s a worthwhile day’s work for you.

*****

Watchstone (LON:WTG): With the 150p distribution by 31st July, an informant tells me that “I don’t see material value in any operational business. They are loss making & always have been. If I were ascribing values:

Cash (post 150p) 20.5m
Operations             5.0m
Canada litigation   3.0m
PWC litigation        7.0m
———
35.5m

Less wind up*         5.0m

———

30.5m or c. 67p/share

These are pretty much my maximum numbers

* c£3m employee bonus & c£2m to wind up plc plus operational losses to sale.

I would pay up to 195p for WTG. There is no hurry.

On 7th July, we will be running a Q&A webinar with the one and only Evil Knievil (Aka Simon Cawkwell). Please share a question for Evil below and we’ll try to answer as many as possible in the live webinar. Sign up for the webinar here.

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