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Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on August 31, 2009
Bill Clinton. Al Gore. Alan Greenspan. Sarah Palin? CLSA, the Hong Kong-based brokerage, announced today that the hockey mom who quit her job as Alaska governor last month will be the keynote speaker at its annual investor conference in September. The CLSA forum is a big deal, having attracted not only Clinton, Gore and Greenspan in the past but also heavyweights like Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Walt Disney boss Michael Eisner and scientist Craig Venter (who founded the Institute for Genomic Research and led the team that sequenced the human genome). In a press release, CLSA (in which France’s Credit Agricole is the major shareholder) boasts that it “consistently sets the benchmark for original and thought-provoking content.”
The press release from CLSA also has this surprising bit of news: The trip to Hong Kong will be Palin’s first trip to this part of the world. “We are delighted that she will make her first visit to Asia to speak at the CLSA Investors’ Forum,” the statement quoted CLSA chairman and CEO Jonathan Slone saying. During last year’s campaign, the governor touted her state’s proximity to (the Asian part of) Russia as proof of her foreign-policy bona fides, so I’m surprised to read that she has never actually been here.
It’s great that Palin finally plans on making it to Asia. However, a word of caution to people hoping to attend CLSA’s forum: According to this story in the Anchorage Daily News, people counting on Palin to be their keynote speaker sometimes get stood up. “Organizers of an Anchorage event that has been billing Sarah Palin for weeks as a star speaker were left scrambling Wednesday after learning that the former governor won’t be there for tonight’s event and claims to have never been asked,” the newspaper reported last Wednesday. “It would be at least the fourth time in recent months that an anticipated Palin speech has fallen through after Palin and her camp disputed they had ever confirmed it. That includes the brouhaha over whether she’d speak at the annual congressional Republican fundraising dinner in Washington, D.C., this summer.”
Might the same thing happen to CLSA? The press release from the brokerage announcing its plans to host Palin doesn’t include any statement from the former veep candidate herself, and there’s no word yet on her Facebook page or her PAC’s website about the Hong Kong gig. Still, CLSA says there’s no reason to be worried. “It’s confirmed,” says Mandy Ho, a CLSA spokesperson. “She will be a speaker at our forum.”
BusinessWeek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies. Eye on Asia’s bloggers include Asia regional editor Bruce Einhorn, Tokyo reporter Ian Rowley, Korea bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, Asia News Editor and China Bureau Chief. Dexter Roberts, and Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent Frederik Balfour.