While no one seems to be expecting to see much actual mining at the Isua project in Greenland any time soon, I thought its new Chinese owner, General Nice (俊安集团), was worth a closer look, since so little has been written about the company. So I’ve put together a ‘backgrounder’ with highlights from my recent, and not so recent, research on General Nice for everyone to enjoy. Admittedly Isua, an asset which, by all accounts, its new owner plans to simply sit on for the time being, isn’t the hottest topic in the grand scheme of things, but I think the story makes up for that medium-to-low hotness with a flashback to the Shanxi coal rush, with its polluted skies and wild bribing, and a showdown with the ousted ruler of Burkina Faso. Go read the whole thing (still being edited but already up) and confound your fellow dinner-party guests with more General Nice trivia than a barrel of General Nice wine can wash down.
Former Propaganda Dep’t official turned real estate tycoon Huang Nubo 黄怒波, known for a less than completely successful bid to purchase some land in Iceland, talks to Bloomberg about investing up to $100m in “tourist-related property” in Norway, including a hotel in Oslo. Mr Huang had said early on that the Icelandic foray was only the beginning of a larger Nordic project. As things in Iceland are moving rather slowly, he’ll be now starting from Norway, whose tourism industry is “probably more mature”.
Mr Huang is known for stating rather negative opinions on Iceland. More generally, “northern European countries,” he now adds, “are actually still very conservative,” in that they expect Chinese investors to “buy out everything everywhere”. He’s a counterexample: when he saw a barrel of wine from 1653 in Bremen, during a tour around Unesco World Heritage sites, he refrained from buying it all and just offered $200k for one bottle of it.
Huang Nubo, the Chinese poet-tycoon who has spent three years unsuccessfully trying to buy a certain plot of Icelandic land, has set his eyes on a more modest acquisition: a bottle of wine. He’s offering $200k, enough to buy just over 770 hectares in Grímsstaðir á Fjöllum. The wine in question, from 1653, is inside a barrel declared Unesco World Heritage in a cellar under the town hall in Bremen. Huang has recently started a ten-year world trip during which he intends to visit all Unesco heritage sites, and, apparently, ingest some of that heritage. Other than the cellarmaster and the mayor of Bremen, who enjoy the prerogative to sample the wine, only one person in recent memory is reported to have tasted it: Queen Elizabeth, and just a thimbleful at that.
Once he tries it, Huang might very well report about the wine in his poetry. His verses have already featured the word ‘Lafite’, or a quite close spelling of it, in the past, as I took the trouble to quote last year.