“How did the meeting go?” Wenn Siang asked.
Martin snorted at his PA and slumped into the overstuffed sofa.
Wenn rinsed the teapot and cups with the first batch of brewed tea. The clay teapot hissed as it was refilled with boiling water, and overflowed deliberately onto the latticed tea board below. His movements were measured and precise; treating the tea with utmost respect.
Outside, the Hong Kong skyline slowly turned to dark cutouts. It had been an awkward meeting. The investors of Theodora Capital were in a mutinous mood.
Over the last 20 years, all eight private equity funds managed by the company had chalked up annual returns in excess of 50% from the initial listing of several investee companies on booming Asian bourses.
With the global economic slowdown, two co-investors were instigating the others to wind-up non-performing funds. “Why wait until our invested capital hits negative?” they argued.
Martin held the teacup and inhaled the tea’s sharp earthly fragrance. He sipped and swirled the delicately matured flavour around in his mouth. “Spring puerh, I believe. Where did you get this from?”
Wenn beamed with pride. “Specifically, chun jian puerh tea from Fengqing County in Lincang Prefecture in Yunnan Province. Great stuff, eh? I am wondering if I should make a bid for their last disc of 15-year old puerh.”
Martin leaned back and closed his eyes. Wills has been his most trusted aide since Theodora Capital was set up more than 20 years ago. Once, when the Fund was on the brink of bankruptcy following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Wenn tapped into his network of tea connoisseurs for emergency capital.
Visions of Aubergina twirled in Martin’s mind. Those beautiful almond eyes. The way she giggles when she is nervous. The way she turns all red. She’s cute. And curvy. Very curvy. Damn!
“Hey, that lady who was talking to me at breakfast this morning? I want you to run a background check on her. I think she said her name is Aubergina.”
Wenn raised his eyebrows and laughed. “Aubergina? As in the ‘Aubergina butterfly’? Sounds exotic.”
“She’s joining me for breakfast tomorrow.”
Wenn regarded Martin for a moment.
“Looks like you have jumped the gun on this one. She must be something special, eh? Usually it’s – Wenn, please identify this candidate. Wenn, please run a background check. Wenn, please contact candidate for a date.” Wenn rattled the standard operating procedures like a drill sergeant.
Martin grunted, unable to hide his irritation at Wenn’s candor.
Wenn cupped his hands around his teacup and said quietly. “I hope you have not forgotten your priorities. Time is running out, Martin.”
..to be continued