TCRAP_Public/000120.MBX         T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

                    A S I A   P A C I F I C

            Thursday, January 20, 2000, Vol. 3, No. 14


* C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G *

CA PACIFIC FINANCE: Prosecution sums up theft case

* I N D O N E S I A *

PT ASTRA INT'L: Battle for shares escalates

* J A P A N *

DAIEI INC.: To sell 20% stake to reduce debts

* K O R E A *

DAEWOO GROUP: Daewoo investors to cash in heavily
KOOKMIN LIFE INSUR.: Sale to SK Group now a possibility
SAMSUNG MOTORS: Renault moves step closer to buying  
SAMYANG MERCHANT BANKING CORP: Asset transfer try foiled

* M A L A Y S I A *

GOLDTRON LTD.: New chairman appointed following debt scheme
PILECON ENGINEERING BHD: To restructure firms within group
TIME ENGINEERING: To list telecoms business
TIME ENGINEERING: Advised to sell telecom unit to SingTech  

* P H I L I P P I N E S *

BW RESOURCES CORP.: No PSE findings of improprieties yet  
EYCO GROUP OF COMPANIES: Creditors ask SEC for liquidator
PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK: Gov't nixes PNB-Allied merger

* S I N G A P O R E *

CLOB INT'L: CLOB issue can't go to WTO, private solution
L&M GROUP INVESTMENTS: Secures $81.5m loan-refi package
THAKRAL CORP.: Expects to stay in the red in current year

* T H A I L A N D *

BANK THAI: Seeks okay to cease retail operations
HSBC: Debt-rehab deal with Siam General Factoring close
SAHAVIRIYA STEEL INDUS.: Shelves search for foreign partner
TELECOM ASIA: In talks with Shin Corp. re alliance
THAI PETROCHEMICAL INDUS.: Agreement reached on restructure
THAI PETROCHEMICAL INDUS.: Rehab to be done in 2 weeks

C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G

CA PACIFIC FINANCE: Prosecution sums up theft case
Closing arguments in the CA Pacific trial yesterday began
with a graphic recap of Jason Wong But-sit's allegedly
rogue activities which stripped the company of $248

The former "boss" is accused of stealing the cash from CA
Pacific Finance to fund the $1.24 billion purchase of
Century Square in Central.  His brother, Alex Wong Ching-
ping, who was then chairman of Capital Asia, was irate when
he found out about the missing funds, the jury heard.  The
siblings had a showdown on January 5, 1998. Jason Wong was
agitated, prosecutor Richard Turnbull said, and the
brothers quarrelled.

"During that meeting, Jason Wong said: 'If it makes you go
bankrupt, I'm sorry. But I will do it'," the prosecutor
told the jury.  The fact of the matter is this," Mr
Turnbull continued.  The funds are owned by CA Pacific
Finance, they are not owned by the Wong family."

Jason Wong allegedly took the money from the company's bank
account in the months leading up to the group's collapse in
January 1998. He did this without authority, Mr Turnbull
stressed, saying no consent had been given by CA Pacific
directors.  Wong was at the time a consultant of the group,
having resigned as general manager in 1996. Staff still
considered him "the boss," the court heard.

The money was allegedly used to pay instalments on Century
Square. The building was bought by an off-shore company,
China Star Consultants, set up by Wong and his wife,
Elizabeth Kong Suk-yee, the prosecution alleges.  Both deny
false accounting between November and December 1997. Wong
also denies eight charges of theft, involving the $248
million, between September and December the same year.

The defendants told police they received approval from Alex
Wong for the purchase of Century Square.  Mr Turnbull said
it might be suggested to the jury that Jason Wong had the
authority to use the funds because the Wong family
discussed the purchase of the building.  However, he
stressed that Wong's own mother had told the jury there had
been family discussions but no formal decisions were
reached.  The case, before Mr Justice Gareth Lugar-Mawson,
is continuing. (South China Morning Post  18-Jan-2000)


PT ASTRA INT'L: Battle for shares escalates
The battle for the acquisition of the almost 40 percent of
PT Astra International the Indonesian Bank Restructuring
Agency claims to control has escalated since Cacuk
Sudarijanto took over as head of the agency last week.

Cacuk has proposed that Astra's extraordinary shareholders
meeting, scheduled for Feb. 8, replace the company's Rini
Soewandi-led management in a bid to increase shareholder
value, securities analysts disclosed here on Monday.

"If that is the reason it appears quite strange. First of
all, the management has succeeded in raising the price of
Astra shares from as low as Rp 225 last year to over Rp
3,750 (US$0.52) now, and in turning the company around from
a huge loss to a respectable profit level," an analyst from
a joint venture securities company said.

Cacuk's proposal is nothing but an attempt to bulldoze any
legal and technical barriers to IBRA's sale of its Astra
shares to an American investor group led by Newbridge
Capital Ltd. and Gilbert Global Equity Partners, the
analyst added.

According to other sources who have read the agreement
between the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) and
the investor consortium, Newbridge and Gilbert have pledged
to retain Astra's current senior management team and assist
and cooperate with this team.

Astra International made a sharp turnaround in 1999,
booking a profit of Rp 330 billion in the first nine months
of the year, compared to a loss of Rp 1.8 trillion in the
same period in 1998.  The company also is one of the few
major corporate debtors in the country to have successfully
restructured its foreign debts, which amount to some $1

Besides dominating the country's car and motorcycle market,
which has begun to show sings of recovery, Astra
International also is a major player in agribusiness and
financial services.

IBRA's effort to sell its stake in Astra in order to meet
its revenue target of Rp 17 trillion by March caused
controversy early last month when it was disclosed that the
Newbridge/Gilbert consortium had been chosen as the
preferred bidder without the benefit of a competitive
tender.  IBRA gained control of almost 40 percent of Astra,
making it the largest single shareholder, through stakes
pledged to it by conglomerates as repayment of their debts
to the central bank.

However, according to the securities market watchdog, IBRA
has completed the legal process for only 28.64 percent of
the almost 40 percent equity in Astra it claims to have
taken over from conglomerate debtors.  IBRA, faced with
legal problems from the securities market watchdog
regarding the planned transaction, heated up the
controversy by accusing Astra's management of attempting to
block the share sale.

Newbridge joined the fray late last month, alleging that
Astra's management tried to obstruct a due diligence it
wanted to conduct on the company as part of the agreement
it had concluded with IBRA in early December.  Astra
executives immediately dismissed the charge, saying the
investor consortium only obtained legal clearance to
conduct the due diligence on Dec. 15 from the Capital
Market Supervisory Agency.

"We are extremely concerned about meeting IBRA's timetable
for the proposed completion of the transaction," Gilbert
chairman Steven J. Gilbert said in a press statement from
Singapore late last year.

Analysts here consider the Newbridge/Gilbert deal for the
Astra shares a key to winning back foreign investors,
particularly after Standard Chartered Bank Plc was forced
out of the investment deal it had reached with IBRA for
Bank Bali.  However, the manner in which IBRA handled the
Astra deal could lead to a protracted controversy similar
to the one that forced Standard Chartered to pull out of
its deal to buy IBRA's stakes in Bank Bali last month, some
analysts said.

Astra's management itself has expressed disappointment with
the manner in which Newbridge/Gilbert was named the
preferred bidder, citing a securities market rule that
requires an open tender for the sale of more than 20
percent of a public company.  Astra has suggested that IBRA
sell its stake in the company in two phases, selling less
than 20 percent of the stake in the first phase in order to
avoid the compulsory open tender.

Because Astra's share prices are expected to rise after the
entry of new investors, IBRA can then sell its remaining
stake in the company at a much higher value, the Astra
management argued in a recent recommendation to IBRA.
But IBRA seems under pressure to meet its revenue target
and its Astra stake appears to be the only jewel among the
Rp 600 trillion in assets -- equities and bad debts -- the
agency currently controls.

Some analysts also see the terms of the transaction as
being full of holes detrimental to IBRA's, and thus the
government's, interests.  The Astra shares will be priced
at Rp 3,000, compared to the current market price of over
Rp 3,750, if Newbridge/Gilbert purchases less than 30
percent of the shares. But the price will rise to between
Rp 3,750 and Rp 3,825 per share if the consortium buys more
than 30 percent of IBRA's shares.

An analyst said the clause greatly favored the American
investor consortium because it could opt to purchase less
than 30 percent of the agency's stake and only have to pay
Rp 3,000 per share, compared to the market prices of
around Rp 3,750.

"Even if they intend to increase their ownership to more
than 30 percent by buying additional shares on the stock
exchange at the prevailing market price, the investor group
still has the advantage from the previous transaction,"
the analyst said.

Several analysts also saw it as strange that the
Newbridge/Gilbert consortium was given the right to match
any higher bids for the Astra shares.

"The Newbridge consortium's right to match any higher bid
may discourage other interested investors from making
an offer," an analyst monitoring the deal said.

He contended it would be pointless for other investors to
make a bid if the Newbridge/Gilbert consortium had the
right to match the bid.  The consortium is also entitled to
compensation of up to $1.5 million if the planned
transaction is not closed.  Analysts questioned why the
Newbridge/Gilbert consortium, while not being obliged to
provide an up-front payment to guarantee its commitment,
was given numerous advantages in the terms of the
transaction. (The Jakarta Post  18-Jan-2000)


DAIEI INC.: To sell 20% stake to reduce debts
Mitsubishi Corp. has agreed with Daiei Inc. to purchase a
20% stake in Daiei's convenience-store subsidiary, Lawson
Inc., for 170 billion yen ($1.61 billion).

The general trading company will buy Lawson's privately
offered exchangeable bonds in February, guaranteeing a 20%
stake when the convenience store goes public, it said.
Mitsubishi will become the second-largest shareholder in
Lawson after Daiei, it said.

Daiei will use funds from the sale to reduce its debt for
the year ending Feb. 29, said Daiei President Tadasu Toba.
Daiei's restructuring plan calls for cutting intere-bearing
group debt by one trillion yen by Feb. 2002. Daiei ims to
take Lawson public by this autumn. (The Asian Wall Street
Journal  18-Jan-2000)


DAEWOO GROUP: Daewoo investors to cash in heavily
Jittery South Korean investors are expected to cash in 23.5
trillion won (US$20.9 billion) worth of Daewoo-related
beneficiary certificates from next month, researchers said

Hyundai Securities predicted in a research note that 23.5
trillion won of a total of 32.2 trillion in outstanding
Daewoo-linked stock-based certificates would be called in
when the paper becomes 95 percent redeemable on February 8.

Officials and analysts are bracing for a possible run on
funds exposed to the certificates which some fear may spark
a "February Crisis," severely weakening still-fragile South
Korean financial institutions.  Investors are expected to
shed paper related to the Daewoo Group, which is in the
process of being dismantled after its near collapse under
the weight of around $77 billion in debt, as soon as they
can safely do so.

Hyundai Securities forecast that almost all of the
outstanding accounts due before February 8 will be
redeemed, given their inability to be converted into other
stock-type instruments such as high yielding bonds.  It
said the outstanding volume of beneficiary certificates
investing in Daewoo bonds was reduced to 69.2 trillion won
at the end of last year, from 150.6 trillion on August 13
when only half of the funds were allowed to be withdrawn.

Of the outstanding volume, individual investors' accounts
represent 32.2 trillion won and financial institutions'
accounts 37 trillion won, it said.

"The 23.5 trillion won expected to be redeemed is
equivalent to 2.8 percent of the total liquidity (of the
market) and 18.1 percent of the outstanding accounts of
government and corporate bond products," the brokerage

Therefore, it added, "their withdrawals should [impose] a
big impact on the financial market in the short term."
Hyundai noted that in excess of three to four trillion won
was needed to cushion the redemption impact, in addition to
the government's pledged injection of new liquidity of 10
trillion and superfluous liquidity of 9.5 trillion won held
by investment trust companies. (Business Day  18-Jan-2000)

KOOKMIN LIFE INSUR.: Sale to SK Group now a possibility
After negotiations between the government and U.S. insurer,
New York Life, on the sale of Kookmin Life Insurance Co.
collapsed due to differences over the price, the
possibility now exists that the debt-laden life insurance
company may be sold to the life insurance unit of the SK
Group, the nation's fourth largest conglomerate.

The U.S. life insurer yesterday informed the Financial
Supervisory Commission (FSC) that it will not continue the
negotiations on the takeover of Kookmin, said commission
officials.  While the U.S. life insurer stuck to its offer
of 70 billion won for Kookmin, the government refused to
budge from its asking price of 100 billion won ($89.3

In July last year, both sides signed a memorandum of
understanding to start negotiations on the sale of the
Korean insurance firm, whose liabilities are thought to
exceed its assets by 340 billion won.  With the breakdown
of the talks, the government will now consider selling the
insolvent life insurance company to domestic buyers, the
officials said.

However, if a foreign company offers a satisfactory price,
the government may still sell Kookmin Life overseas, they
added.  Meanwhile, the SK Group is thought to be interested
in acquiring Kookmin Life in line with its strategy to
expand its life insurance business. According to industry
watchers, SK Life Insurance Co. is expected to make an
offer for Kookmin soon.

The sale of Kookmin Life is part of a government plan to
restructure the heavily-indebted life insurance sector,
including Korea Life Insurance Co., the nation's third
largest life insurer.  With negotiations to sell Korea Life
to a foreign buyer coming to nothing, the government
nationalized the insurance company by injecting public
funds of nearly 2 trillion won into it. (Korea Herald  18-

SAMSUNG MOTORS: Renault moves step closer to buying  
High-level negotiators from Renault arrived in Seoul
yesterday, raising speculation that the French auto giant's
acquisition of troubled Samsung Motors Inc. is imminent,
banking sources said.

Renault's negotiating team, headed by a vice president-
level executive, is scheduled to meet with Samsung Motors'
creditors to discuss details of the proposed takeover deal,
said sources. They forecast that talks with Renault are
proceeding smoothly and may be concluded far earlier than
anticipated, possibly within one or two months.

"Renault is expected to unveil a set of concrete post-
merger managerial plans, including a 10-year use of the
Samsung brand and continued production of the Samsung-built
SM5 model," said a banker close to the situation. "The
French firm may also propose launching production of two to
three new models at Samsung's sole car plant in Pusan, in a
bid to increase local market share."

He said the Samsung Group may be asked to hold 20 to 30
percent of the new Samsung Motors and be involved in the
manufacturing and after-sales service to help facilitate
Renault's acquisition deal.  Particularly concerned about a
possible exodus of quality R&D manpower from Samsung,
Renault may also make strong commitment to job security for
Samsung employees, said the banker, adding that the
remaining differences are about the price.

Meanwhile, a Samsung Group executive revealed that the
Renault team is composed of about 30 experts in the fields
of finance, marketing, and technology, noting that all
concerned parties, including Samsung, share in the need to
quicken the takeover deal. He said that Renault officials
will also visit the Pusan plant and its parts suppliers.

"Renault has already conducted several rounds of inspection
of Samsung's Pusan plant and even brought home the SM5
model for disassembly. So the takeover deal will be closed
by the end of February at the latest," he forecasts.

Renault's entry is likely to shake up the Korean market, as
the French firm's top managers vowed to grab 10 percent of
the Korean passenger car market in one to two years after
the Samsung acquisition.

In a brief statement on Jan. 4, Renault confirmed of having
entered on Dec. 30, 1999 into an exclusive negotiation on
the possible acquisition of all or part of Samsung Motors'
operating assets. "The deal would allow the Renault-Nissan
alliance to achieve a broader base in Asia and in
particular to acquire a privileged access to the Korean
market," the statement said.  

Additionally, a four-member survey team from French car
maker Renault SA arrived in Seoul Monday to conduct a due
diligence of South Korea's troubled Samsung Motors Inc.
The Renault team will survey and inspect Samsung Motors'
overall operations, including its technology and financial
conditions, Samsung officials said.

Renault officials said that the takeover, if successfully
negotiated, would give them privileged access to the Korean
market and a larger base in Asia.  (The Korea Herald, The
Asian Wall Street Journal  18-Jan-2000)

SAMYANG MERCHANT BANKING CORP: Asset transfer try foiled
The Korea Deposit Insurance Corp. (KDIC), the government
agency responsible for the liquidation of bankrupt
financial firms, said Tuesday that it has recaptured
several assets that Samyang Merchant Banking Corp. had
illegally moved abroad.

This is the first case of capital flight on which KDIC has
successfully taken action.  KIDC discovered that Samyang
Merchant Banking Corp., which was liquidated in 1998,
possessed a total of US$47 million in capital assets in
various foreign countries, including Hong Kong and China.
The first US$1.9 million has been recovered from deposits
at a bank in Hong Kong. KDIC said it is pressing on with
the collection of Samyang's assets, including real estate
and other capital assets worth US$35 million in China.
(Digital Chosun  18-Jan-2000)


GOLDTRON LTD.: New chairman appointed following debt scheme
Goldtron Ltd., the electronics distributor and contract
manufacturer that just received a new lease of life
following a successful debt revamp, has appointed Mokhzani
Mahathir, son of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad,
as non-executive chairman and Peng Chian Chua as the new
executive managing director.

Mr Mokhzani, an engineer and prominent businessman, is
already a Goldtron director and is currently executive
chairman and chief executive of Tongkah Holdings Bhd,
executive chairman of Pantai Holdings Bhd and chairman of
THB Industries Bhd.

Goldtron was rescued last year by prominent Malaysian
businessman Mohd Taufik Abdullah, who is executive chairman
of Johor Port Bhd and former executive director of Bank

When Mr Taufik surfaced as Goldtron's white knight last
September, Nicky Tan of Arthur Andersen, the financial
adviser to Goldtron, said he could not be sure if anyone
else was behind Mr Taufik.

Mr Mokhzani's appointment follows the resignation of Ong
Soon Kiat as executive chairman on Monday. Mr Ong was asked
to quit his directorships by the Registrar of Companies
following his guilty plea to five counts of securities
charges. He was fined $250,000 in March for creating a
false market in the company's shares in 1995.

Goldtron's fortunes had taken a sharp turn for the worse
after its telecommunications business -- manufacturing
mobile phones, pagers and cordless phones -- was routed by
competition and by the onset of the Asian economic crisis.
That business lost about $200 million and has since been
closed down. Its four core businesses now are trading of
electronic components, contract manufacturing, printer
manufacturing and lithium manganese batteries production.

In the stock market yesterday, the company's shares rose
1.5 cents to 29 cents on a volume of 2.9 million shares.
(Singapore Business Times  19-Jan-2000)

PILECON ENGINEERING BHD: To restructure firms within group
Having formalised its debt restructuring exercise, Pilecon
Engineering Bhd is now moving to consolidate its position
and restructure some companies within the group.

According to Pilecon managing director Datuk Dr Gan Khuan
Poh, the group intended to concentrate on the construction
of low- to medium-cost housing and development projects and
move away from works related to high-rise buildings.

"We will restructure some companies and close others which
are dormant after we finalise their accounts.
Operationally, we won't go for high-rise buildings since
there is an over-supply situation," he said.

He said there would be some re-assignment of staff after
the operational restructuring which would be undertaken
over the next few months.  Gan was speaking to reporters
after the signing of an agreement between Pilecon and six
underwriters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Pilecon has proposed a rights issue of 199.79 million new
shares with 199.79 detachable warrants at 98 sen apiece on
the basis of one new share and one warrant for every share
held.  Of the proceeds of some RM195.8mil from the rights
issue, Pilecon will use RM78.32mil to retire part of its
total debts of RM331mil as at Oct 31, 1999.  The balance
will be used as additional working capital for ongoing
construction and property development projects.

The group also plans to issue up to RM181.9mil nominal
value of five-year redeemable secured floating rate notes
(RSFN) to existing creditor banks on a proportionate basis
in accordance with the outstanding debt owed to them after
the part cash repayment.  On completion of the rights issue
and RSFN, Pilecon's gearing level would fall to 0.6 from
1.3 times currently, Gan said.

"We hope to be back in the black in this current financial
year to December as the volume of jobs is there but maybe
not in terms of the huge sums seen before," he said.

The group expects to secure between RM200mil and RM300mil
worth of jobs this year.  The adviser and managing
underwriter of the rights issue is Aseambankers Malaysia
Bhd, while the other five underwriters are Ke-Zan
Securities Sdn Bhd, RHB Sakura Merchant Bankers Bhd, Malpac
Securities Sdn Bhd, M&A Securities Sdn Bhd and MIDF Sisma
Securities Sdn Bhd.

The six have agreed to underwrite 123.26 million of the
199.79 million shares to be issued under the rights issue.
Tradefast Properties Ltd, a substantial shareholder of
Pilecon, has provided an undertaking to subscribe to the
balance 76.53 million new shares. (The Star  19-Jan-2000)

TIME ENGINEERING: To list telecoms business
Time Engineering Bhd is understood to be planning to list
its telecoms business which it reckons can make more money
than PLUS (Projek Lebuhraya Utara Selatan Bhd) if properly

Seeing the potential for its telecoms business, especially
with the explosion in the interest in Internet business,
Time will now opt for its own debt restructuring solution.

"If the Time group is properly structured, our telecoms
information highway will make more money than the highways
under PLUS," Tan Sri Halim Saad told Star Business. "Time's
future is very promising. If all goes well, there will be
three major income sources within the Renong Bhd group:
highways (mainly PLUS), telecoms, and properties."  

Last week, Halim was appointed as managing director of Time
Telecommunications Holdings Bhd, now renamed Time dotCom
Bhd to reflect the focus of the communications company.
Time dotCom is wholly-owned by Time Engineering Bhd. Halim
is also executive chairman of Renong, which holds a 46.8%
equity in Time Engineering.

Late last week, Time dotCom, became the holding company of
Time Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (Time Telecom), Time Reach
Sdn Bhd (payphone business) and Time Wireless Sdn Bhd
(cellular).  A source close to the group said Time dotCom
would be listed under the infrastructure company category.
The company had, prior to the 1997 crisis, already obtained
listing approval and will now reactivate the plan.

"Time plans to settle its debt via a three-pronged strategy
first, to list Time dotCom and raise about RM1.2bil to
RM1.5bil and second, issue new shares in three telecoms
units to its creditors both of which will retire the
group's debts substantially," the source said.

He added that the third strategy would be to get a foreign
partner but that would be done after the listing exercise
so as to realise better value. This can bring in between
RM1bil and RM1.5bil.

"The proceeds from the strategic partner can be used to
further retire its debts and as capital expenditure to
forge ahead," said the source.

Time had on its table numerous offers for its telecoms
operations but declined them in favour of its own formula
because the offerers were willing to pay RM1.2bil to
RM1.5bil, which is less than 10% of their asset value.
Based on current telecoms global prices, Time's assets
should be valued at RM14.6bil, and even at the conservative
figure of three times the 1998 book value of RM3.66bil, the
company is worth RM10.9bil. Hence the rationale for Time to
consider a plan to save itself rather than opt for rescue

A local research house recently revalued Time's net asset
value at RM3.04 a share in view of the potential of its
Internet business since Time has a comprehensive fibre-
optic network which can transmit data at very high speeds,
and which wireless may not be able to do as yet.

Time can also leverage on its position as a toll operator
for other carriers and appears as an alternative to the
dominant player, Telekom Malaysia Bhd. Time owns 3,600km of
fibre-optic trunk and a 1,600km submarine festoon fibre
cable in Peninsular Malaysia.

"The Time group has a strategic asset the fibre-optic
network whose potential, if realised to its fullest, can
help the group reduce its debts," the source said.

He added that with the economic recovery and the telecoms
unit bringing in revenues of RM710mil at the end of last
year, Time would be able to restructure itself, which it
had not been able to do during the economic crisis.

"A point to note is that the Renong group intends to pay
every creditor in full if the creditors are willing to
accept the plan the owners have in mind," the source
commented.  "Otherwise, the company will have to be
liquidated since none of the foreign and local bidders are
willing to pay more than RM1.5bil for the entire telecoms
operations which the owners feel are worth much, much more.
The creditors, on the other hand, may not even get 40 sen
on a ringgit if Time is liquidated," the source said,
adding that the shareholders of Time had no plans for a
capital reduction.

Come Jan 28, the court protection under Section 176 of the
Companies Act for Time will run out and the bids brokered
by the Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee are not
appealing to both the creditors and Time board and

"With the re-rating of telecoms stocks and the potential of
its Internet business, the option which will be proposed by
shareholders of Time may be the best in the interests of
the company," the source said.  "Halim has personally moved
to the frontoffice of Time and has rolled up his sleeves to
really get into business. He realises the potential of the
Internet business and wants to explore that option in Time
to the fullest," the source said.

Over the past six months, the subscriber numbers have grown
steadily and, as at end-1999, Time had installed 420,000
lines of which 100,000 are fixed lines, 250,000 post and
prepaid cellular users and 80,000 payphone lines.

"Time has wired more than 900 buildings in the country and
the numbers are growing by the month," the source said.

In terms of revenue, the three telcos Time Telekom, Time
Reach and Time Wireless will rake in RM710mil for year
ending Dec 31, 1999, and RM1bil this year.  Time shares,
which have been moving up the past few days, rose very
steadily yesterday. It closed 39 sen up at RM2.40, off an
intraday high of RM2.63. (The Star  18-Jan-2000)

TIME ENGINEERING: Advised to sell telecom unit to SingTech  
Time Engineering creditors, who are owed 4.5 billion
Malaysian ringgit (S$2 billion), have been advised to pick
Singapore Technologies as the preferred buyer for the
company's telecommunications unit over two other bidders.
The advice, though, is likely to be rejected by the
Malaysian government on political grounds, analysts said.

"It'll be quite difficult to get government approval" as
Time is seen as a national asset, said Phua Lee Kerk, head
of research at Jupiter Securities.

According to documents obtained by Bloomberg News, NM
Rothschild & Sons (Singapore), the creditors' adviser,
recommended Singapore Technologies, whose bid for the unit,
Time dotCom, exceeds the next best offer by RM1.4 billion.

"In the absence of any alternative...we recommend entering
into exclusive negotiations with Singapore Technologies,"
Rothschild said in its letter.

The recommendation was made in December. The other bidders
for all or part of Time are Maxis Communications,
Malaysia's second biggest cellular phone company, and
Kejora Harta, a property developer.  An acquisition by
Singapore Technologies would give Time dotCom just the kind
of deep-pocketed shareholder it needs to meet growing
competition in the domestic phone market. Still, it is
unlikely to be accepted, analysts said.

Reflecting the likely rejection of the Singapore
Technologies bid this weekend, Time dotCom, previously
known as Time Telecommunications Holdings, named Renong
chairman Halim Saad and five others as new directors.
Mr Halim, one of Malaysia's most politically well-linked
business tycoons, has in the past been called on to take
charge of companies considered to be of strategic national

For example, he was handpicked to lead Renong, which was
created through the folding in of assets and businesses
owned by the ruling party, the United Malays National
Organisation, or Umno.  Mr Halim said in December that Time
and its creditors aren't happy with three bids offered for
the telecommunications business.

Renong owns 46.7 per cent of Time, which offers fixed-line
and cellular phone services, and has Internet operations.
It also has Malaysia's biggest fibre-optic cable network.

Mr Halim was reported by the Star newspaper yesterday as
saying that Time will opt for its own debt plan, though he
didn't elaborate.  Time also wants to sell shares of its
Time dotCom through a public offer, convert debt into
shares and sell a stake to an unnamed foreign partner, the
Star reported.

Time, which lost RM2.3 billion in 1998, was hurt by
Malaysia's recession and decade-high interest rates. It
needs to free itself from its debt woes to take advantage
of the economic recovery.  Time, which is under protection
from creditors, is being assisted by the government's debt
mediator. Its protection expires on Jan 28.

Singapore Technologies included in its bid RM1.04 billion
in cash to buy 51 per cent of Time dotCom, and assumed debt
of RM520 million. According to the terms of its bid, Time
would swap RM3.1 billion of bonds for existing debt, with
the new bonds converted into shares later, the documents
said.  Maxis was only willing to cough up RM100 million in
cash and sell RM1.4 billion of new stock, giving creditors
9 per cent of the enlarged capital of Maxis.

As part of its offer, Kejora said it would pump RM200
million into Time for capital expenditure, get Time to swap
700 million shares of new stock for existing debt, and sell
a further RM2 billion of convertible shares, and
restructure RM2.5 billion of the remaining debt. (Singapore
Business Times  19-Jan-2000)


BW RESOURCES CORP.: No PSE findings of improprieties yet  
Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), president Jose Luis Yulo
said yesterday there are no conclusive findings yet in the
ongoing probe on the trading of BW Resources Corp. He
described as "erroneous" the spate of news reports
regarding alleged evidence of fraudulent activities.

In a statement, he said the BW investigation "is not yet
complete and therefore it does not provide any conclusion.
The investigation is not yet complete, conclusion is yet to
be determined, due process should be served, and therefore,
there is no such completed report to support those
erroneous news insinuating that there are findings of

Last Monday, several newspapers (not The STAR) quoted a
highly-informed government source saying there were
"initial findings in the PSE investigation of wash sales"
or a deal that involved no change in ownership in the
traded stocks.  "There were indications of connivance by
some brokerage firms," the source said.

"The PSE investigation confirms nothing until it is fully
and precisely completed," he said. The Securities and
Exchange Commission has given the PSE 90 days from early
November to complete its investigation, which is supposed
to end on Feb. 13.

During the first stage of the PSE's probe on BW Yulo made
references to "possible cases of wash scale."

At that time, he said the PSE had about 30 percent of the
investigative work completed, but there were still no
conclusive findings on who were behind the rise and fall of
BW stocks, adding the PSE had not found anything "unusual"
about the transactions.

"We're looking at books and records of brokers who traded
heavily in BW stocks. We would like to find out if there
are parties who try to make the price of the issue to
levels not sentiment with the market," Yulo said.

Yesterday, Yulo clarified that "there are no findings yet
to suggest any manner or form of manipulation nor that
there is connivance of brokers in such irregular
activities."   He said the investigation "is going through
a diligent and careful process of fact finding and constant
verification and that this requires dedicated time and
resources to ensure due process is serviced to all
concerned parties."

Yulo said PSE needs the 90-day schedule of completion in
order to "dilligently comply with PSE's standard and
exhaustive procedures of investigation." (The Philippine
Star, The Philippine Daily Inquirer  19-Jan-2000)

EYCO GROUP OF COMPANIES: Creditors ask SEC for liquidator
Creditors of the EYCO Group of Companies, the parent firm
to bankrupt appliance maker Nikon Industrial Corp., are
urging the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to
immediately appoint a liquidator to stop the unauthorized
disbursement of company funds.

Led by the Philippine National Bank (PNB) the creditors
expressed apprehension that while the SEC disapproved
EYCO's petition for suspension of debt payments along with
its rehabilitation plan in an order dated Sept. 14, 1999,
the conservator committee which ceased to exist along with
the order, continues to dispose substantial assets of the

The creditors have filed an urgent motion to appoint a
liquidator that will have the sole authority to oversee the
disposal of the company's assets and order payments of all
debts.  The banks said that under the new rules on
corporate recovery which took effect last Jan. 15, the SEC
is required to name a liquidator for EYCO. They added that
the hearing panel tasked by the SEC to undertake the
liquidation and dissolution of the company, was divested of
its power and authority when the new rules took effect.

"The reason for this is that the dissolution of the EYCO
Group and the liquidation of its assets fall squarely
within the ambit of the liquidator's power and duties. With
more reason, therefore, should a liquidator be appointed
post haste by the SEC en banc."

Moreover, the new rules provide that the liquidator may be
"the interim receiver, the rehabilitation receiver, or any
other person who is in the practice of law, accounting or
management, who has no conflict of interest as provided in
Section 2-6 of these rules."

The banks recommended that the liquidator be selected from
any of the independent private accounting firms, except the
EYCO Group's external auditor.  The banks added that since
the EYCO Group's motion for a writ of preliminary
injunction or temporary restraining order has not been
granted by the Court of Appeals, there is no legal obstacle
for the SEC en banc or the liquidator it will appoint to
"cause the execution of its order of dissolution and

The creditors said the urgency of their motion is
underscored by the fact that to date, no receiver or
liquidator has been appointed during the pendency of the
appeal with the Court of Appeals and while the SEC order
last Sept. 14, 1999 has been implemented.

"At the very least, the appointment of a liquidator becomes
urgent and essential to receive and preserve EYCO's assets.
Otherwise, the interests of EYCO's creditors may unduly be
prejudiced," the banks said.

The banks earlier wanted the SEC to execute a writ of
execution that will enable them to enforce the regulatory
body's order to start the liquidation of the company's
assets. (The Philippine Star, Business World  19-Jan-2000)

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK: Gov't nixes PNB-Allied merger
The government has rejected a proposal by Chinese-Filipino
businessman Lucio Tan to merge semiprivate Philippine
National Bank (PNB) with Allied Banking Corp. in which the
brewing and tobacco tycoon has controlling interests.

Finance Secretary Jose Pardo yesterday told a congressional
hearing Mr. Tan's merger proposal was recently discussed by
PNB's board but the government, which holds a 30% stake in
PNB, won't sanction a merger between the two banks.  Mr.
Tan wanted to merge the two banks through a share swap, a
move that would have created the country's biggest bank.
However, the government's direct stake in PNB would have
been diluted in the new institution.

"The government won't identify with this move," Mr. Pardo

Mr. Tan holds more than a 35% stake in PNB, which he has
amassed by buying shares on the open market over the past
several months. He earlier said he wants to buy the
government's 30% stake "if the price is right".

Mr. Pardo admitted the government had been in talks with
Mr. Tan, as well as "with few key stockholders", on the
block auction of the 30% stake.  In these meetings, he said
it had been discussed to put the 30% up for auction than
merge PNB with another bank.  As part of commitments to the
World Bank and International Monetary Fund to reform the
domestic banking sector, the government must sell its
remaining 30% stake in PNB before June.

"The PNB privatization is just part of the big-ticket items
that will be privatized before the extended term of the
Assets Privatization Trust expires (on November),"
Committee on Privatization executive director Crisanta
Legaspi told solons at yesterday's congressional hearing.

While the CoP official declined to say how much is to be
expected from the PNB sale, an attached paper in the
Department of Finance's (DoF) presentation handouts pegged
the proceeds at 6.8 billion Philippine pesos (US$167.8
million at PhP40.529:US$1). The handouts were distributed
among lawmakers in yesterday's bicameral conference
committee meeting at the House of Representatives.

However, Mr. Pardo ordered the removal of the paper from
the handouts, and instead opted to discuss details of the
privatization in an executive session with lawmakers.
Proceeds from the PNB's privatization, projected to amount
to PhP6.8 billion, is expected to boost the government's
coffers and put the budget deficit in check and within the
IMF-approved PhP62.5-billion ($1.5 billion) level.

The government plans to raise P22 billion this year through
privatization -- a massive increase on the P6 billion
envisaged only three months ago.  Senate Majority Leader
Franklin M. Drilon said the projected PhP6.8-billion
proceeds may not attained as this was based on the sale of
the "controlling shares" last year that Mr. Tan's group
accumulated. The controlling shares were sold at PhP137 per

"I do not think that we should use this as basis for the
sale of the 30% shares since this comprises (a) minority
position and we cannot have the same premium that was asked
for the majority shares," Mr. Drilon told reporters.

PNB's privatization is being closely watched by the market.
The bank is saddled with one of the highest levels of
nonperforming loans in the banking system at 28%, and
urgently needs a strong backer.  Its drawcards include a
strong retail network, and a large chunk of the lucrative
remittance business of Filipinos working overseas.

"Regardless of who eventually owns PNB, the bank needs an
investor with deep pockets and proven management expertise,
to allow it to clean its books and overhaul its
operations," GK Goh Research Philippines said in a report

The brokerage house said PNB's approaching privatization
may lend a "speculative flavor" to its share price,
especially if the winning bidder is willing to inject fresh
capital to bolster the bank's finances.  PNB shares
yesterday closed P3 lower to P93 at the Philippine Stock
Exchange.  PNB shares yesterday closed P3 lower to P93 at
the Philippine Stock Exchange. (Business World, Philippine
Daily Inquirer  18-Jan-2000)


CLOB INT'L: CLOB issue can't go to WTO, private solution
Singapore has no grounds to take a dispute over frozen
shares worth billions of dollars to the World Trade
Organization (WTO), a Malaysian minister said yesterday.

International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz said
Malaysia had never recognized the Central Limit Order Book
(CLOB) over-the-counter market in Singapore under which the
shares were formerly traded.

"It (CLOB) is not a formal structure and we have never
recognized (CLOB) and they know it, so they have no case to
bring it to WTO," she was quoted by the state Bernama news
agency as saying.

The shares, now worth an estimated 17 billion ringgit
($4.86 billion), were frozen when Malaysia imposed credit
controls in September 1998, banning trading of its listed
shares outside the country.  Some 100 Malaysian issues were
traded under CLOB. An estimated 170,000 CLOB shareholders,
mainly Singaporeans, were hit by the freeze.

Singapore warned in November that it had legal grounds to
raise the issue with the WTO but would await the outcome of
talks with Malaysia.  Rafidah said that whatever the
outcome of the issue, it should not affect the performance
of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.

"We are happy to see our stock market performing so much
better now and whatever happens to CLOB should not affect
our own stock market performance," she added.  

Meanwhile, the private sector offers do not provide a way
out of the impasse over frozen Malaysian Clob shares,
Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Parliament
yesterday. He said the issue must be settled according to
the law, and with due regard to the rights and obligations
of Clob investors and the Malaysian authorities.

"Private sector offers cannot resolve the Clob issue," BG
Lee said. "They do not supersede obligations that are
binding in law, nor can they absolve the relevant parties
from their legal responsibilities."

Malaysian shares traded on Singapore's over-the-counter
Clob market have been frozen since September 1998 when
Malaysia imposed capital controls and declared Clob an
unrecognised market.  Since then, there have been five
private sector proposals to break the deadlock.

"What is a fair agreement? I say a fair agreement is
according to the law and the contract," BG Lee said in
reply to questions from MPs.

He disclosed that Finance Minister Richard Hu wrote to his
Malaysian counterpart, Daim Zainuddin, on Jan 13,
requesting Mr Daim to ask the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange
(KLSE) to fulfil its legal obligations under the
agreement between Central Depository Pte Ltd (CDP) and
Securities Clearing Automated Network Services Sdn Bhd
(Scans). Dr Hu is still awaiting a reply.

Under the agreement between Singapore's CDP and Scans, a
subsidiary of KLSE, the parties agreed on the migration of
Clob shares into individual accounts held at the Malaysian
Central Depository.

"This is a key agreement whose significance the Malaysian
authorities have played down," BG Lee said. But he stressed
that the agreement is legally binding and specifically
enforceable in Malaysian courts.

BG Lee said the Singapore government has been advised by
WTO legal specialists that Malaysia's actions on Clob are
inconsistent with the most-favoured-nation provision of the
WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services, because they
discriminate against Clob vis-a-vis other foreign

Asked by MPs whether the government has set a deadline for
the resolution of the issue before resorting to other
actions like going to the WTO, BG Lee replied: "It is not a
matter to be dragged on and we will pursue it urgently. But
I don't think it is helpful to make a public announcement
on deadlines and bind ourselves."  

Last week, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong told Reuters
Television in an interview that Singapore would take the
dispute with Malaysia over Clob shares to the WTO, if a
solution cannot be reached bilaterally.

"The SGX (Singapore Exchange) and Singapore government
continue to be anxious to resolve the matter bilaterally
with Malaysia, and will make every effort to do so. It is
therefore premature to speculate on what further steps may
be necessary should a bilateral solution not prove
possible," BG Lee said.  (Singapore Business Times,
Business Day  18-Jan-2000)

L&M GROUP INVESTMENTS: Secures $81.5m loan-refi package
Specialist engineering contracting company L&M Group
Investments has managed to refinance a $81.5 million loan
package which will free it from the clutches of a 23-bank
group that has been hampering its efforts to move

The refinancing package, which will also free it from the
supervision of a special accountant appointed by the banks,
is said to have been provided by Overseas Union Bank, one
of the 23 creditor banks.

"Upon credit facilities being normalised, the company will
be able to focus on the core businesses undertaken by its
Geotechnic and Structural Systems Divisions which were
otherwise hampered by the supervisory position the
group went through in the past," a company statement issued
by company secretary Nancy Tan See Sin yesterday said.
"The company will be able also to accelerate the pace of
its new activities in information technology and multi-
media as well as the development of its Cybercity project
announced earlier.  In addition, the group will bring its
debt equity ratio to a more satisfactory level when it
completes its rights issue which is subject to
the approval of the Singapore Exchange," Ms Tan added.

L&M had been in technical default of its loan covenants
since the middle of 1998 which eventually led to the
company being placed under the supervision of the special
accountant.  Last April the company appointed Ernst &Young
as financial adviser to help it restructure its existing
bank facilities and businesses and formulate a plan for a
recapitalisation exercise.

The restructuring plans include the spinning off of L&M
Geotechnic, one of the group's main operating divisions, to
the main board of the Singapore Exchange this year, while
its Indonesian arm, L&M Systems Indonesia, hopes to be
listed on the Jakarta Stock Exchange in the second half of
the year.  As part of its capital raising exercise the
company placed out 9.25 million shares at $1.0062 each to
Indonesian businessman Bambang Sukmonohadi, just before
last Christmas.

This was on top of the 30.7 million share placement at 61.5
cents each to Jing Chui Ltd, a company controlled by
executive committee chairman Edward Soeryadjaya, which
raised $18.6 million on Dec 1 last year.  And in an effort
to further reduce its debt, the group is raising another
$23.1 million through a 1-for-4 rights issue.

The group's shares slipped two cents to $1.37 on the stock
market yesterday with more than five million shares
changing hands. (Singapore Business Times  19-Jan-2000)

THAKRAL CORP.: Expects to stay in the red in current year
Thakral Corp Ltd said it now expects to remain in the red
for the year to March 2000 after forecasting a return to
profitability in its last set of final results in June
1999, as well as in its interim results just last month.

The electronics goods distributor said in a statement
yesterday that its forecast in June was based on the
expectation that the Hongkong and China economies would
improve, in line with the rest of the countries in the
region.  But in mid-October 1999, it became aware that it
would report a loss for the half-year ended Sept 30, 1999.
At that time, it was forecasting that the results for the
full year, before extraordinary items, would be profitable.

Subsequently, the full extent of the losses were quantified
after the company had reviewed the requirements for
inventory and receivables provisioning with its external
auditors and financial advisers. In light of this review,
Thakral said it established further provisions of $27.9

"In view of the first-half results, the group does not
expect the full-year results to be profitable," it said.

When Thakral announced its interim results on Dec 22 last
year, it said it expected to make an operational profit in
the second half and break even at the bottom line. For the
six months to Sep 30, 1999, the group had chalked up a
staggering $100.6 million bottomline loss.

Providing additional information about its first half
results, Thakral yesterday said the $41.8 million exchange
costs represented premium costs incurred by the group on
option contracts it had entered into to hedge its yen
currency exposure.

All of those contracts were entered into prior to June 28,
1999, the date of the announcement of its financial results
for the full year ended March 31, 1999.  Thakral said it
decided to unwind and liquidate the option contracts in mid
June 1999. The total cost of unwinding these contracts up
to June 30, 1999, totalled $36 million. After June 30, and
upon their expiry, the remaining yen option contracts were
also unwound resulting in an additional cost of $5.73

Thakral said the foreign exchange costs on historical
contracts referred to in its interim results announcement
last month related primarily to unexpired option contracts
that were carried forward from the previous financial year.
They also included other option contracts that were
outstanding as of the date of its 1999 full year result
announcement on June 28.

Thakral said it had unwound and liquidated most of its
option positions, including those entered into after the
balance sheet date.  (Singapore Business Times  18-Jan-


BANK THAI: Seeks okay to cease retail operations
Bank Thai is seeking permission from the central bank to
close down bank branches and lay-off more people in order
to halt all retail banking services, Krungthep Turakji

The bank has about 20,000 to 30,000 million baht in
business with retail customers but says that when those
contracts or relationships expire, it will discontinue
business.  Bank Thai says that as a newcomer, it is unable
to compete in retail banking and plans to shift focus to
the more lucrative wholesale banking sector instead.
(Business Day  18-Jan-2000)

HSBC: Debt-rehab deal with Siam General Factoring close
Nine banks, led by HSBC, are nearing a debt restructuring
agreement with Siam General Factoring after more than two
years of negotiations.

The company owes $33 million, borrowed as working capital,
and has been in default since last April.  Under the
restructuring agreement, at least 30% of the outstanding
debt will be swapped for non-voting preferred shares by

The preferred shares, expected to amount to around 400
million baht, are convertible to common shares within two
years, with existing shareholders holding the right to
repurchase shares in the period.  Remaining debt will be
rescheduled over five years, with interest rates set at Sibor
(Singapore Interbank Offered Rate) plus 0.25 percentage
points for the first year.  The premium over Sibor will increase to
0.5 points in the second year, and one point for the period
spanning years three to five.

"The debt restructuring will help reduce the company's debt
burden by 35%, with equity increasing by 40-50 million baht,"
said Ruangkitti Keofanapadon, managing director of Siam
General Factoring.

Negotiations with creditors were held up largely by the refusal of
creditors to accept any reductions in payments, but while the
company counts Siam Commercial Bank among major
shareholders, the bank was unable to offer significant financial
support, given its own difficulties in raising provisions to cover
non-performing loans.

After the restructuring, Siam Commercial Bank and HSBC will
both end up with similar shareholdings in Siam General Factoring.  
While no management changes are planned, corporate strategies
will be revised, with greater focus given to overseas factoring
services and auto leasing.Additional services, such as arranging
loan guarantees for contractors or trade credits for importers, will
also be offered.

Mr Ruangkitti said domestic factoring remained the firm's core
business, accounting for 70% of revenue. Factoring firms purchase
accounts receivable from other companies, at a discount,
offering an additional tool for companies to manage liquidity.

"We are confident that this year we can use our working capital to
finance new loans and help expand our operations by up to 70%,"
Mr Ruangkitti said, adding the firm has funds of about 500 million
baht on tap.  "In December, our client base expanded to 400
customers, from just 100 at the beginning of 1999."

Still, Mr Ruangkitti noted that competition in the industry
was increasing, particularly from foreign banks looking to
boost their market presence, especially in investments in
small and medium-sized enterprises. (Bangkok Post  19-Jan-

SAHAVIRIYA STEEL INDUS.: Shelves search for foreign partner
Sahaviriya Steel Industries Plc (SSI) has abandoned its
plan to search for strategic foreign investors following
its successful debt restructure, said group chief executive
Wit Viriyaprapaikit.

Wit explained that the hot-rolled steel company had already
concluded its Bt20-billion debt restructuring and expects
to report a profit of Bt400 million to Bt600 million for
1999. In 1998, the company booked a loss of Bt846.74
million.  SSI is a unit of the Sahaviriya Group, which has
a total steel-production capacity of 6 million tonnes per
annum and accounts for over half the country's overall
steel production capacity totalling more than 9 million
tonnes a year.

The Siam Cement and NTS Steel groups rank second and third
with annual production capacities of 2.7 million and 1.8
million tonnes, respectively.  SSI is Thailand's largest
hot-rolled steel maker with an annual production capacity
of 2.5 million tonnes. Domestic demand for hot-rolled steel
is currently about 3.5 million tonnes a year.

Following the recent debt restructuring, SSI's main
creditors, Bank of Ayudhya and Siam Commercial Bank, have
become shareholders in the firm.  However, Wit said he
would still consider proposals from some European and
Asian Steel makers who might be invited to take a minority
stake of between 5 and 10 per cent in SSI.  The company
plans to produce 1.6 million tonnes this year, up from 1.2
million tonnes in 1999.

The Sahaviriya group has also restructured its cold-rolled
steel subsidiary, Thai Cold Rolled Steel Sheet (TCRSS),
recently by selling its majority stake in the firm to
Japanese partners NKK Corp and Marubeni leaving Sahaviriya
with a 34 per cent stake in the company.  TCRSS can produce
a total 1.2 million tonnes of cold-rolled steel per annum.

"Both SSI and TCRSS are now in good shape and the
restructuring of other steel units within the group are not
a major concern, but would be completed within this year,"
said Wit.

Meanwhile, TCRSS has already produced and delivered over 1
million tonnes of cold-rolled coils to customers. The
company will raise its output from 611,000 tonnes last year
to 720,000 tonnes this year, 35 per cent of which would be
exported of Asian countries.  With the increased output,
TCRSS expects to boost its revenue to Bt10 billion this
year from Bt8.035 billion in 1999.

TRCSS made its first debt repayment of $15 million in
December last year against a total debt amount of $420
million. The firm has to make debt repayments of $30
million per year.  Wit said TCRSS would reach its break-
event point this year. He anticipated that Thailand's
demand for cold-rolled steel would be around 1.5 million
tonnes this year and it would take three years to return to
the pre-crisis level of 2 million tonnes. (The Nation  18-

TELECOM ASIA: In talks with Shin Corp. re alliance
Shin Corp and Telecom Asia (TA) have been holding quiet
talks, Krungthep Turakij reported, quoting an unnamed
source involved in the negotiations.

Shin Corp and TA are apparently proposing some sort of link
up between the Shin subsidiary Advance Information Services
(AIS) and TA's PCT. The aim being to open up the PCT
telephone service to the provinces via the AIS network.
What's in it for AIS has yet to be answered. The source
also said a bigger merger planned between Shin Corp, TA,
TT&T and Ucom fell through because disputes over various
debts and assets could not be resolved.

Meanwhile, the rumoured merger between TelecomAsia Corp Plc
and Advance Info Service Plc, the flagship cellular-phone
subsidiary of Shin Corporation Plc, pushed Shin's share
price up yesterday by nearly 10 per cent.

However, Shin lost no time in denying another rumour that
AIS would merge with the Personal Communications Telephone
(PCT) unit of the metropolitan fixed-line operator.
According to some newspaper reports, the move was designed
to prepare for future competition when the Thai telecom
industry is liberalised.

"The company would like to clarify that the rumour as
mentioned in the news is not correct," it said in a

Following the denial, Shin's share price fell back to the
same level as Friday's closing price of Bt294 after
reaching Bt318.  Also TA's share price, which rose in the
morning's trading session to peak at Bt56, ended at
Bt52.50, or Bt1.59 lower, while AIS closed at Bt412.

Since shifting its business focus as a telecom holding
company late last year, Shin has been the subject of a
series of merger headlines.  The first major move came to
light after a surprise announcement that it was negotiating
to acquire a major stake in the financially ailing
telephone company Thai Telephone and Telecommunication Plc
(TT&T) but the deal was called off due to lack of progress.

At the time the move caused such a surge in the firm's
share price that the Stock Exchange of Thailand had to
investigate the price movement before announcing that it
had found unusual movement.  The Securities Exchange
Commission has also launched an investigation into possible
investor speculation on the merger announcements.

Last week Shin said that it had held preliminary
discussions with Samart Corporation Plc regarding an
alliance with Samart's 1800 digital mobile-phone unit,
Digital Phone Plc.

On a separate issue, the company said it had approached
Samart for a possible tie-up with the latter's telecom
business for data communications using its V-Sat satellite.
Both deals are currently under negotiation.
(The Nation, Business Day  18-Jan-2000)

THAI PETROCHEMICAL INDUS.: Agreement reached on restructure
Thai Petrochemical Industry (TPI) yesterday yesterday said
it had settled a dispute with creditors over the plan to
restructure its US$3.5 billion debt, and the plan will be
submitted to the Central Bankruptcy Court.

The announcement came a month after TPI's creditors refused
the company's attempt to change the term of the agreement
signed last February.  However, Chartsiri Sophonpanich,
Bangkok Bank (BBL) President, was cautious, saying that
creditors can't say that the process was completed since
the Central Bankruptcy Court had not approved the business
reorganization plan.

He also added that some of TPI's creditors still disagreed
with bringing the matter to the court because the court's
judgment was final, and they must abide by the plan. BBL
Senior Executive Vice President Deja Tulananda said he
expected the court to spend about two months before handing
down the decision, adding that after the court's approval,
creditors, including BBL, would be able to delete TPI's
debts from non-performing loans account.

A source at the Steering Committee said TPI was expected to
start paying its debt six months after the court handed
down the opinion. During that period, the source said, TPI
would looking for friendly partners to help in process of
increasing capital to one billion baht.  Moreover,
creditors proposed to the court that Prachai Leopairat, TPI
Chairman of the Board, was to be in charge of drafting
TPI's reorganization plan.

After the rehabilitation proposal is approved by the court,
a company normally has three months to write up a
restructuring plan and present it to the Business
Reorganization Office at the Ministry of Justice, after
which the court will call for the official vote from
creditors on the plan. Approval from creditors representing
75 percent of the debt is needed to complete the process.

Meanwhile, the steering committee released a statement
saying it hoped the plan would be accepted by the court
without dissent, and estimated that the court would deliver
its decision no later than June. In addition, the statement
also added that under the agreed plan, TPI executives will
assume the role of planner, retain day to day management of
the company with Steering Committee monitoring the running
of the business according to the plan.

TPI and its creditors had been in debt reform tug of war
for over two years. The last time the two sides signed an
agreement was last February, however TPI did not honor the
agreement, resulting in stalemate since then.  Yesterday
TPI shares rose 1.5 percent to 17 baht. (Business Day  18-

THAI PETROCHEMICAL INDUS.: Rehab to be done in 2 weeks
Thai Petrochemical Industry Plc chief financial officer
Wachirapun Promprasert said the company expects to complete
its rehabilitation plan within a two-week period once the
Bankruptcy Court approves the appointment of TPI CEO
Prachai Leophairat as supervisor for the plan.

Under existing laws, the Bankruptcy Court allows three
months for companies to finalise and submit the draft of
their rehabilitation plans, Wachirapun said in an interview
with local television station ITV.

"Once the Court approves the company CEO's (appointment)
... the plan will be completed in two weeks," he said.
"There will be no significant changes in the rehabilitation
plan" from those agreed earlier."

He said the most important aspect of the programme is
creditors' commitment to discuss a proposed capital
increase of 1.4 bln usd.  He said the company feels it does
not need a strategic partner and plans a private placement
of its shares with foreign funds, which have shown
increasing interest in the region.

"Nobody, neither creditors nor the company, would gain or
lose from this recapitalisation," he said.  (AFX News
Limited  18-Jan-2000)

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