TCRAP_Public/000124.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

            Monday, January 24, 2000, Vol. 3, No. 16


* C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G *

CABLE AND WIRELESS HKT:Price rise cancelled - price-fixing
CABLE & WIRELESS HKT: No profit for another year at least
e-KONG LTD.: Seeking e-commerce,joint venture opportunities
HUTCHISON TELECOM.(HK):Price rise cancelled - price-fixing
MANDARIN COMMUNICATIONS:Price rise cancelled - price-fixing
NEW WORLD PCS: Price rise cancelled -- price-fixing
PEOPLES TELEPHONE CO.: Price rise cancelled -- price-fixing
SMARTONE TELECOM.HLDGS.:Price rise cancelled - price-fixing

* I N D O N E S I A *

BANK INDONESIA: Gov't doesn't need to recapitalize
PT PAITON ENERGY: Jakarta court puts end to lawsuit

* J A P A N *

CHISSO CORP.: Merging divisions, selling product rights
DAIEI INC.: Deal Gives Recruit Management Independence
MITSUKOSHI: To post special 6.8 Bln Yen losses in FY99
NIPPON CREDIT BANK: Former execs enter pleas on fraud chgs

* K O R E A *

DAEWOO GROUP: Plan for Daewoo lenders unveiled
DAEWOO GROUP: Gov't to offer 60% haircut on foreign debt
DAEWOO GROUP: Gov't,foreign banks agree on 42% cash buyout?
DAEWOO MOTOR: Local auto-parts firms to make bid
NARA BANKING: FSC suspends ops for 90 days
SAMSUNG MOTORS: Renault makes $354M offer to buy

* M A L A Y S I A *

TIME ENGINEERING: SingTech makes best offer for affiliate

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

BW RESOURCES CORP.: SEC head accuses Estrada of cover-up
BW RESOURCES CORP.: Estrada denies stopping probe
MINDANAO PORTLAND CEMENT: Asks SEC to lift capital hike bar
NATIONAL STEEL CORP.: Firms dumping steel,hurting prices
PILIPINAS SHELL PETROLEUM: PhP700M in 1999 under-recoveries

* S I N G A P O R E *

KIAN HO BEARINGS/HOLDINGS: 3 directors to help recoup funds

* T H A I L A N D *

BANGKOK BANK: Posts annual loss
BANGKOK METROPOLITAN BANK: Mulls retirement plan
BANK OF ASIA: Posts annual loss
BANK OF AYUDHYA: Posts annual loss
KRUNG THAI BANK: Posts annual loss
NAKORNTHAI STRIP METAL: Swasdi seeks rehab -- again
SIAM COMMERICAL BANK: Posts annual loss
SINO-THAI ENG.AND CONST.: Accepted for rehabilitation
SRIRACHA HARBOUR CO: Confident of debt approval
THAI FARMERS BANK: Posts annual loss
THAI PETROCHEMICAL INDUS.: Share-sale roadshow ahead
TOTAL ACCESS COMM.: Restructure to bring teamwork,partner
TOTAL ACCESS COMM.: S&P lowers ratings outlook

C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G

CABLE AND WIRELESS HKT:Price rise cancelled - price-fixing
HUTCHISON TELECOM.(HK):Price rise cancelled - price-fixing
MANDARIN COMMUNICATIONS:Price rise cancelled - price-fixing
NEW WORLD PCS: Price rise cancelled -- price-fixing
PEOPLES TELEPHONE CO.: Price rise cancelled -- price-fixing
SMARTONE TELECOM.HLDGS.:Price rise cancelled - price-fixing
The Hong Kong government Thursday ordered the city's six
mobile phone operators to cancel price increases announced
this month, saying evidence pointed to price-fixing among
the companies. The operators are Cable & Wireless HKT Ltd.,
Smartone Telecommunications Holdings Ltd., Hutchison
Telecommunications (Hong Kong) Ltd., New World PCS Ltd.,
Peoples Telephone Co. and Mandarin Communications Ltd.

The Office of the Telecommunications Authority said it
would impose no further penalties because all six companies
complied with the order, but it will ask the city's
legislature to approve a 10-fold increase in the fines for
anti-competitive practices contained in the
Telecommunications Ordinance.

The ruling comes as a blow to the operators, which have
waged a fierce price war to hold on to customers since
March 1999, when the government changed the rules to let
subscribers keep their phone numbers when changing service
providers. The abortive price rise this month was the first
since the new policy was implemented.

On Jan. 2, the companies simultaneously announced increases
in their monthly charges, although these varied from
company to company, ranging from 10 Hong Kong dollars
($1.29) to 20 dollars. The increases were to have taken
effect Feb. 1 for existing subscribers and immediately for
new subscribers.

"None of the companies could provide sufficient documents
to prove that they reached the price increase decision
independently," Anthony Wong, director-general of the
regulatory body, said at a news conference.

Jim Pratt, chief executive of People's Telephone, denied
his company had engaged in price fixing. "We reached our
decision absolutely independently," he said.

Smartone said in a statement that a price rise was "fully
justified for the company to continue to provide high-
quality mobile services and we believe OFTA understand this
position."  (The International Herald Tribune  21-Jan-2000)

CABLE & WIRELESS HKT: No profit for another year at least
Cable & Wireless HKT is unlikely to see a rebound in its
earnings until the financial year to March 31, 2002,
according to chief executive Linus Cheung Wing-lam.

"We will have another difficult year next year," Mr Cheung
said.  "I'm expecting our profit to grow again in the next

Hong Kong's dominant telecommunications operator last
November announced a worse than expected net loss of $2.77
billion for the six months to September 30.  The loss was
the result of a huge exceptional loss of $7.1 billion on
equipment write-off, mainly contributed by its interactive
multimedia services arm ITV, according to analysts.

The latest round of deregulation of the Hong Kong
telecommunications market, which started this month, will
continue to increase competition in the company's core
fixed-line services.  However, Mr Cheung said HKT would
continue to maintain a dominant position by capturing about
95 per cent of the fixed-line market.

The share of revenue generated from Internet, entertainment
and electronic commerce services are expected to grow
significantly in the next five years to 40 per cent of
HKT's revenues, up from 5 per cent last year.  The counter
eased 2.55 per cent, or 50 cents, to close at $19.10.

Meanwhile, HKT expected to list its multimedia joint
venture with Star TV on the Nasdaq and Hong Kong stock
markets by October.  The flotation would bring HKT an
exceptional gain in the following financial year, according
to analysts.  Star TV, a unit of Australian media empire
News Corp, announced in November the creation of a joint
venture with HKT to deliver a digital pay-television
service in Hong Kong, offering 50 channels.  The venture
will focus on the SAR Cantonese market before expanding to
other Chinese communities in Asia. (South China Morning
Post  22-Jan-2000)

e-KONG LTD.: Seeking e-commerce,joint venture opportunities
At the request of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited,
the board of directors (the "Board") of e-Kong Group
Limited (the "Company") is making this announcement through
its director Derrick Bulawa that while it has noted the
recent increase in the trading volume of the shares of the
Company, it wishes to state that it is not aware of any
reasons save as disclosed below.

The Company is in discussions with several independent
third parties on several and distinct business
opportunities in respect of the provision of internet e-
commerce services, which may be in the form of a joint
venture or as strategic investments. The discussions are at
a preliminary stage and may or may not lead to the signing
of formal agreements. Further announcement will be made if
there are any further development. Shareholders and
investors of the Company are advised to exercise caution
when dealing in the shares of the Company.

Save as aforesaid, the Board confirms that there are no
negotiation or agreements relating to intended acquisitions
or realizations which are discloseable under paragraph 3 of
the Listing Agreement, neither is the Board aware of any
matter discloseable under the general obligation imposed by
paragraph 2 of the Listing Agreement, which is or may be of
a price-sensitive nature.  (Stock Exchange of Hong Kong


BANK INDONESIA: Gov't doesn't need to recapitalize
Finance Minister Bambang Sudibyo revealed on Friday that
Bank Indonesia (BI) had massive profits accumulated from
its foreign exchange transactions, and that thereby, the
government did not need to recapitalize the central bank
after all.

But he said that the profits could not reverse Bank
Indonesia's poor financial position because they had not
been put on the asset side of the central bank's balance
sheet, but on the liabilities side.

"I've been told by the IMF (International Monetary Fund)
that there is an item called the stabilization fund in Bank
Indonesia which is put on the liabilities side.  It is said
that the total is Rp 100 trillion. If this is true, Bank
Indonesia is actually rich," Bambang told the House of
Representatives commission IX on banking and finance in a
joint hearing session with the central bank.

"Putting it on the liabilities side is wrong... It's
actually a profit. I know it because I happen to be an
accountant," said Bambang, who was a lecturer in accounting
at the prestigious Gadjah Mada University before being
appointed as minister. So it (the accounting system) must
be revised," he added, but "Don't worry. Bank Indonesia
doesn't have to be recapitalized. What it needs is only an
accounting adjustment."

Bambang was responding to concerns among legislators and
economists that the government would have to spend huge
amounts of money to recapitalize BI following a
controversial auditing report that the central bank was
near insolvency because of the mishandling of multibillion
dollar liquidity support to ailing banks in 1997 and 1998.
Bank Indonesia's Sjahril Sabirin confirmed this, but said
that he had yet to calculate the exact figure.

Sjahril said that keeping a stabilization fund was a normal
thing practiced by other central banks as a prudent measure
because much of the fund is unrealized profit used to
anticipate a reverse in the forex market. But he said that
he agreed with Bambang's suggestion.  Sjahril said that BI
was beginning to implement the so-called net currency
position, which is a new method in counting the profits
from its foreign exchange transaction.

Under the new method, a gain from a foreign exchange
transaction would be calculated based on the difference
between the selling price of a hard currency and the
average purchasing price of the currency.

Previously, the counting method was based on the difference
between the selling price and the buying price.  BI deputy
governor Miranda S. Goeltom said that the stabilization
fund was around Rp 100 trillion before the implementation
of the new net currency position but then dropped to around
Rp 48 trillion following the new counting method.

Meanwhile, the House commission IX would summon all related
government officials including ex-finance ministers and the
Bank Indonesia governor responsible for designing and
implementing the controversial BI liquidity support to help
resolve allegations of possible abuse.

"We'll summon the former top officials soon," head of the
commission IX Sukowaluyo Mintoraharjo said.

Names already listed for questioning included former
finance ministers Mar'ie Muhammad, Fuad Bawazier, and
Bambang Subianto, and former Bank Indonesia governor
Soedradjad Djiwandono.  The Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) said
in its general audit report on BI's May 17, 1999, balance
sheet that more than Rp 80 trillion of the liquidity
support was inappropriately channeled to the ailing banks.

BPK said that the central bank violated its own criteria in
the channeling of the liquidity support.  The agency also
questioned the channeling of more than Rp 9 trillion in
liquidity support.  BI has channeled some Rp 164.5 trillion
in liquidity support. The government has issued bonds to
the central bank to cover the liquidity support.

But there have been growing demands from legislators that
the government should not cover all the liquidity support
following the BPK report.  Bambang stressed that the
government has no intention to withdraw the bonds already
issued to BI.  He said that if the bonds were withdrawn,
the central bank would automatically debit the cash
reserves of the recipient banks in BI.

"This would cause those banks to collapse. It would be much
more costly," Bambang said.

But he said that what the government wanted was to clarify
whether there was a violation in the channeling of the
liquidity support by officials in the previous government.

"This is important so that there's a clear-cut between the
responsibility of the previous government and the new
government," he said. (The Jakarta Post  22-Jan-2000)

PT PAITON ENERGY: Jakarta court puts end to lawsuit
The Central Jakarta District Court decided on Thursday to
end the legal process of the dispute between state-owned
electricity company PT PLN and independent power producer
PT Paiton Energy at the request of the state company.

"We have submitted a mandate from PLN to revoke the lawsuit
that we had filed against Paiton in court. The panel of
judges approved our request at today's hearing," Maqdir
Ismail of Adnan Buyung Nasution & Partners law firm told
The Jakarta Post.

Maqdir said the court's decision automatically annuls all
previous provisional rulings made by the court, including
the one that barred Paiton from pursuing arbitration
litigation against the state company.  Maqdir called on
Paiton to reciprocate PLN's move by also dropping its
arbitration litigation.

"To be fair, Paiton also has to put an end to its
arbitration efforts. Thus far, we have not yet heard if
Paiton has made such a move," Maqdir said.

Paiton lawyer Frans Hendra Winarta told the Post Paiton had
notified new PLN president Kuntoro Mangkusubroto that it
was committed to seek a commercial solution to their
dispute and would thus terminate its arbitration efforts.

"Paiton notified the new PLN leadership about its plan to
drop the arbitration lawsuit several days ago. I have
copies of the letter. But for the sake of confidentiality,
I can't give them to you," Frans said.  "The arbitration
suit will undermine the commercial negotiations that Paiton
is committed to do with PLN," Frans said.

Frans also reiterated Paiton's commitment to cut the price
of its power supplies to PLN.  PLN filed a lawsuit against
Paiton in October last year following months of
unproductive negotiations on changes to the power purchase
agreement (PPA) which was signed in 1994.

PLN asked the court to nullify the contract, saying it was
void ab initio (void from the beginning), invalid and based
on the corruption, collusion and nepotism practices
associated with the administration of former president
Soeharto.  It said the high price for Paiton's power
supplies set in the contract reflected the corrupt

Paiton Energy is owned by Japan's Mitsui (32.5 percent),
Edison Mission of the United States (40 percent), General
Electric, also of the U.S. (12.5 percent) and local firm PT
Batu Hitam Perkasa (15 percent), which is controlled by
tycoon Hashim Djojohadikusumo.  The company developed a
1,230 Megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant, called Paiton
Swasta I, in Probolinggo, East Java.

Under the contract, Paiton sells its power to PLN at the
price of between 5.5 cents and 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour
(Kwh), which is higher than the average price of 6.4 cents
per Kwh set by other independent power producers and much
higher than PLN's selling price of Rp 240 (about 3 cents).

Paiton filed an arbitration suit in Stockholm soon after
PLN filed its suit in the Central Jakarta court, but
delayed the arbitration efforts after the court ordered it
to stop pursuing them.  President Abdurrahman Wahid ordered
PLN to drop the arbitration suit this month, insisting that
his administration would honor Paiton's contract and all
other contracts made by previous governments.

The President said he preferred an out-of-court negotiation
to change the contents of the contracts rather than
reaching a legal solution.  Then president of PLN Adhi
Satriya resigned in protest over Abdurrahman's policy. He
was then replaced by former mines and energy minister
Kuntoro Mangkusubroto. (The Jakarta Post  21-Jan-2000)

PT Seamless Pipe Indonesia Jaya (SPIJ) of the Bakrie Group
has entered into an agreement with the Indonesian Bank
Restructuring Agency (IBRA) and the Asian Development Bank
(ADB) to restructure its debt totaling US$140 million and
Rp 561 billion (US$78 million).

IBRA said in a statement on Thursday that the debt
restructuring would be conducted through a combination of
debt to equity swap, conversion into convertible bonds and
stretching the maturity of the remaining debt.

IBRA said the agreement would affect all of SPIJ's debt to
the agency totaling $113 million and Rp 101 billion; to ADB
and a consortium of offshore banks, $27 million, and to
parent company PT Bakrie & Brothers, Rp 461 billion, as
well as the $58 million the company owes in interest
payments to IBRA and an ADB syndication.

Of the total debt, 50 percent of institutional debt or $77
million would be converted into equity, 20 percent of the
institutional debt or $31 million would be changed into
convertible bonds and the remaining 30 percent of the
institutional loans would be extended in its repayment

In addition, all the company's debt to shareholders
totaling Rp 461 billion would be converted into equity.

"SPIJ is the first Indonesian company that has negotiated
an agreement to restructure debts involving the ADB," IBRA
said in the statement.

As part of the restructuring, parent company Bakrie &
Brothers said it had agreed to merge its PT Southeast Asia
Pipe Industries (SEAPI) operations into SPIJ "to become a
much larger pipe manufacturer and make the operations more
profitable and provide an exit route for IBRA and ADB

The merger, however, will be subject to necessary approvals
from appropriate authorities.   Earlier, PT Bakrie Nirwana
Resort, another unit of the Bakrie Group, reached an
agreement with IBRA to restructure its debt totaling $161
million and Rp 40 billion, with a similar restructuring
scheme as that applied to SPIJ.

Upon the completion of SPIJ debt restructuring, the Bakrie
Group has thus far restructured 47.6 percent of its total
obligation to IBRA, which according to IBRA report as of
Dec. 6 totaled Rp 4.3 trillion.  Thus, the Bakrie Group's
cumulative debt to IBRA should shrink to $273 million and
Rp 140 billion. (The Jakarta Post  22-Jan-2000)


CHISSO CORP.: Merging divisions, selling product rights
Chisso Corp. (4006) will transfer the sales rights on vinyl
chloride resins to Kaneka Corp. (4118) for an unspecified
amount by the end of April, while merging its plasticizers
division with that of Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co. (4182),
as part of ongoing restructuring, company sources said

The firm is struggling to pay off more than 200 billion yen
in debt from compensating sufferers of Minamata disease, a
neurological disorder caused by methylmercury poisoning of
a bay in Kyushu.  The petrochemical company will sell only
the sales rights to Kaneka, not the accounts receivable.
Debts on the resin are not included in the deal.

Chisso will also liquidate some VC resins production
facilities, likely including its Minamata plant in Kumamoto
Prefecture, as well as the factory of its wholly owned
subsidiary Chisso Petrochemical Corp. in Chiba Prefecture,
the sources said.  Sales and production of plasticizers --
used for processing CV resins -- will be transferred to a
joint venture with Mitsubishi Gas, slated to be set up by

The restructuring plans call for reducing the group's work
force to 1,900 from 2,150 over the next four years.
Industrial Bank of Japan (8302), Nippon Life Insurance Co.
and 45 other financial institutions agreed recently on a
bailout plan for Chisso. At least 35 billion yen in
interest payments will be forgiven on total loans of about
75 billion yen. (Nikkei  21-Jan-2000)

DAIEI INC.: Deal Gives Recruit Management Independence
Daiei Inc. (8263) will sell the 25% equity stake held by
the Daiei group in Recruit Co. to the job information
publisher for 100 billion yen. The deal will reduce the top
Japanese retail group's stake to 10% and allow Recruit to
retain management independence.

However, Recruit will need to borrow 40-50 billion yen from
financial institutions to partially finance the deal. The
company will purchase the 25% stake through a number of
subsidiaries, as the Commercial Code effectively bans firms
from buying back their own shares. It posted pretax profit
of 71.8 billion yen in fiscal 1998 ended March.

Recruit reduced its debt to 830 billion yen at the end of
fiscal 1998, down from a peak 1.4 trillion yen in 1994, by
liquidating real estate and other assets. It plans to cut
the debt by a further 80 billion yen in fiscal 1999. The
company intends to go public within three to five years,
and is considering reselling 10-20% of its own equity
interest to its main financial institutions in fiscal 2000
to secure stable shareholders.

As Recruit expects to post more than 10 billion yen in
fiscal 1999 revenues from its Web site service, the outlook
for its online-related operations is said to be bright.
The firm plans to promote Internet-related business based
on accumulated know-how from its core publication business,
while pouring management resources into highly profitable
operations such as temporary staffing services. (Nikkei

MITSUKOSHI: To post special 6.8 Bln Yen losses in FY99
Mitsukoshi Ltd. (8231), a leading Japanese department
store, said Thursday that it will report special losses of
around 6.8 billion yen for this fiscal year ending Feb. 29,
as it aims to strengthen its financial standing on a
consolidated basis.

Mitsukoshi said that profits from sales of fixed assets
will cancel out the negative impact of the special loss,
and that it keeps intact its prior outlook for the current
fiscal year.  The 6.8 billion yen special losses include a
loss of 2.24 billion yen from valuation losses on its
stockholdings in Hong Kong-based subsidiary Mitsukoshi
Enterprises Co.

It will also take a special loss of 1.77 billion yen from
capital reduction of two domestic subsidiaries, which will
cause valuation losses on the parent's shareholdings in
these subsidiaries. The move is aimed at creating a sound
foundation for future business, the company said.

Such measures to help strengthen group companies'
activities are part of Mitsukoshi's efforts to bring
forward its ongoing three-year business plan. Worse-than-
anticipated business conditions prompted the company to
carry out steps to reorganize by this February's book
closing, instead of February 2001. (Nikkei  21-Jan-2000)

NIPPON CREDIT BANK: Former execs enter pleas on fraud chgs
Three former executives of Japan's failed Nippon Credit
Bank pleaded innocent Friday to charges of covering up
losses that led to the bank's collapse, Japanese media
reports said.

Hiroshi Kubota, 68, a former chairman, Shigeoki Togo, 56, a
former president, and Tadao Iwaki, 62, a former vice
president, are accused of hiding more than $1.43 billion in
losses.  They entered their pleas at the first hearing of
their trial at the Tokyo District Court, Kyodo News service
said. Court officials were not available late Friday to
confirm the reports.

The executives were arrested last July shortly after the
arrest of top executives at another failed lender, the
Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan.  Prosecutors say Kubota
ordered bank officials to ask the Finance Ministry to
change the findings of its investigation and ordered them
to lie to ministry inspectors, according to Kyodo.

Nippon Credit Bank and Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan were
both taken over by the government in 1998 after regulators
determined that they were insolvent.  (AP Online  21-Jan-


DAEWOO GROUP: Plan for Daewoo lenders unveiled
Korea unveiled a 35 trillion won (HK$241.5 billion) support
plan for local financial institutions saddled with Daewoo
Group debt to reduce the fallout from the possible collapse
of the conglomerate.

The plan is aimed at preventing cash problems at trust
companies holding Daewoo debt when investors will be able
to withdraw 95 per cent of the face value of their
investments on 8 February, said Lee Yong Keun, the new
chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission.

Mr Lee announced the plan on the eve of two-day talks in
Hong Kong, where the Korean government and state-run
lenders will negotiate with foreign creditors over a buy-
back plan for US$6.7 billion (HK$52.2 billion) of overseas
debt from Daewoo, which owes some US$78 billion. Securing
the agreement of foreign creditors is needed to proceed
with asset sales of Daewoo Group units.

The 35 trillion won plan "suggests the government is taking
a firm stance to prevent fallout from Daewoo from spreading
to other parts of the financial system," said Yoon Doo
Young, head of research at Hanjin Investment Securities.

Korean trust companies, along with insurers, are the
principal buyers of Korean corporate debt. They are owed
some 28 trillion won from companies of Daewoo Group, whose
collapse could hurt Korea's nascent economic recovery.

Financial institutions should be able to manage investor
claims for reimbursement of their investments, said Mr Lee,
after his inauguration as the new chairman of the agency
charged with fixing the nation's financial system that all
but collapsed with the devaluation of the won in 1997.

The 35 trillion won under the support package includes
about 6.5 trillion won that Korea Asset Management Corp
plans to pay for the acquisition of unsecured debts of the

"I have no worries about the 8 February redemption," said
Han Sang Soo, a fund manager at Daehan Investment Trust Co.
"First of all, the government's determination to prevent
financial instability is very strong, and the liquidity at
trust firms is already enough to meet expected demand."

As for this week's debt talks, Mr Lee expressed confidence
that negotiations with foreign banks will resolve a three-
month stalemate on a buy-back plan for the group's overseas
debt.  Prospects for the talks are "very bright" said Mr
Lee, though he warned that the government was ready to put
the largest and most indebted unit, Daewoo Corp, into court
receivership if they fail.

"Preparations to put Daewoo Corp into court receivership
are almost ready."

Foreign banks, including Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, Chase-
Manhattan Corp and HSBC Holdings, last week offered to sell
their Daewoo debt for an average 45 per cent of face value,
down from an earlier offer of 59 per cent. Korean creditors
last month proposed buying the debt at 36.5 cents on the

Meanwhile, South Korea's economy is expected to expand
about 6.4 per cent in 2000, fuelled by strong exports and a
rebound in consumption, according to a survey by the
Federation of Korean Industries.  That's slower than the
7.2 per cent forecast by the Bank of Korea and a drop from
the 10.2 per cent growth the central bank predicts for
1999, when the country rebounded from its worst-ever
recession. Expansion at that pace would mark a return to
growth rates seen before Asia's currency and debt crisis.
The economy grew 6.8 per cent in 1996, and 5 per cent in

A poll of 55 local and foreign economists and company
officials by the trade group representing Korean
conglomerates showed respondents were more optimistic about
the economy this year than last year as corporate
restructuring has cut costs.

"The survey shows that the economy is on a solid recovery
track this year," said an analyst. (Hong Kong Standard,
Business Day  20-Jan-2000)

DAEWOO GROUP: Gov't to offer 60% haircut on foreign debt
The Korean government and creditors of Daewoo Group will
propose paying a maximum of 40 cents on the dollar for the
$5 billion in unsecured loans extended by 200 foreign
creditors in what could be the final round of negotiations
regarding the debt issue.

"At the upcoming meeting with foreign creditors'
representatives, we will make this proposal that will
significantly raise the total buyout package to $2 billion
from the previous $1.8 billion," a senior official of the
Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE) said yesterday.

The official also said that the secured loans of $1.3
billion owed to foreign creditors will be excluded from the
buyout package.  Expressing a ray of hope toward resolution
of the three-month bickering over the "haircut" or loss
ratio of the failed Daewoo Group, new Finance-Economy
Minister Lee Hun-jai said during a speech yesterday that
settlement of the issue of Daewoo's foreign debts, about
one tenth of the total $78 billion, will hopefully be
reached this week.

Lee's hopeful observation stems from the latest counter-
proposal made by foreign creditors' representatives in
which they significantly lowered their demand of a recovery
ratio to 45 cents on the dollar from 59 cents. The Korean
side's proposal was 36.5 cents.

MOFE officials, however, voiced concern about a higher
recovery ratio extended to foreign creditors than to
domestic creditors, something that may be interpreted as a
violation of "equal and fair" treatment for both domestic
and foreign creditors.

"The domestic creditors are as eager as their foreign
counterparts to minimize their losses," the ministry
official said. "Therefore, we can't impose an unfair lower
ratio on the domestic creditors."

In this case, industry experts said the government will
help minimize the domestic creditors' losses through a
manipulation of the government's purchase price of their
bad loans.  But this could trigger public outcry over the
waste of public funds that the current government will not
want ahead of the important April 13 general elections.

"The government is destined to face criticism if a recovery
ratio proposed to the foreigners is any higher than that
extended to domestic creditors," he said.

But at the same time, this looks to be an inevitable choice
for the Korean government, considering that the Daewoo
issue has been a monkey on its back, slowing the full
recovery of the country's economy.  In addition, although
the Korean government may put Daewoo Corp., flagship of the
group, under court receivership in a worst case scenario,
it appears unsure of being able to cope with the
ramifications when foreigners take legal action against
other Daewoo subsidiaries such as Daewoo Motor. (Korea
Times  19-Jan-2000)

DAEWOO GROUP: Gov't,foreign banks agree on 42% cash buyout?
With a difference of less than a few percentage points
between the Korean government's debt rescheduling proposal
and that of the Daewoo Group's overseas creditors, the deal
over $5 billion in foreign debt is now expected to be
signed at a 42 percent recovery ratio.

That is, the Korean government will pay 43 cents on the
dollar for the $5 billion that 200 foreign banks extended
to Daewoo companies as unsecured loans while the lenders
shoulder the remaining 58 cents on the dollar as losses.
The previous government offer was a 40 percent cash buyout
as opposed to the 45 percent demanded by foreign banks.

A key member of the Foreign Bank Steering Committee told
The Korea Times yesterday that foreign banks are willing to
end the debt rescheduling at the 43 percent recovery ratio.

"The agreement is nearly there. I believe that the final
ratio will be around 43 percent. As long as the Korean side
raises the cash payments by another 3 percentage points,
the deal will be done," he said, indicating that the final
rate will be decided by the two sides during their meeting
in Hong Kong that ends today.

With the 43 percent recovery ratio, the Korean government
will need around 2.2 trillion won in cash, 200 billion won
more than when the ratio was set at 40 percent.  With the
final offer of 40 percent by the Korean side and 45 percent
by foreign banks, it seems reasonable that the solution
will be found around 42-43 percent, the foreign banker
said, adding that the meeting in Hong Kong will be the last

Still the foreign creditor said that there are those who
will receive less than 30 cents in the end when the payment
is broken down on a company-by-company basis, adding that
the Korean government may as well include other incentives
to those heavily hit by the Daewoo fiasco.

Daewoo's foreign creditors last week offered a 45 percent
recovery ratio to the Korean side, 14 percentage points
lower than their previous proposal of 59 percent. In
response the Korean government also raised the cash buyout
ratio to 40 percent from 36.5 percent.

At present, the Korean delegation, represented by Oh Ho-
keun who is head of the corporate restructuring
coordination committee, and the other steering committee
members are at the table in Hong Kong reaching for a final
answer to the six-month dispute over Daewoo's foreign debt
workout. (Korea Times  20-Jan-2000)

DAEWOO MOTOR: Local auto-parts firms to make bid
The Korea Federation of Small Business (KFSB) is expected
to officially announce its bid to takeover Daewoo Motor at
a press conference scheduled for Monday January 27.

One high-ranking KFSB official said Thursday that about
10,000 local auto parts suppliers plan to form a consortium
with local large-sized businesses to make a takeover bid
for the ailing automobile firm. The official added that a
takeover plan would be announced by KFSB chair Park Sang-
hee at the conference.

According to the official, the KFSB has already asked the
Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), the lobbying group
for large business groups, as well as a number of large
companies, for their support. The official remarked that
the KFSB has ruled out the possibility of asking any of the
nation's four largest business groups to join the
consortium in order to stem any possibility of a monopoly.

Regarding the raising of funds for the takeover, the
official said that the KFSB was in a position to float
shares. Industry observers doubt the ability of Korea's
small auto parts makers to come up with the funding on
their own due to recently sluggish business. (Digital
Chosun  20-Jan-2000)

NARA BANKING: FSC suspends ops for 90 days
South Korea's financial watchdog on Friday suspended
operations of Nara Banking for three months as its exposure
to the insolvent Daewoo Group proved to be unsustainable.

The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) said the move
was inevitable because the merchant banking company was on
the verge of collapse under the weight of 1.6 trillion won
(1.42 billion dollars) of bad loans to Daewoo.  Following
the move, Nara Banking would go out of business should it
fail to come up with a viable rehabilitation programme
within three months, the FSC said.

Given that half of Daewoo-related bonds be redeemed, Nara
Banking's capital adequacy ratio would fall to a negative
seven percent, FSC officials said.  Nara Banking becomes
the first financial institution to be suspended from
operations because of its bad loans to the Daewoo Group.
The Daewoo Group collapsed last August under the weight of
around 77 billion dollars in debts run up through years of
uncontrolled borrowing and expansion.  (Agence France
Presse  21-Jan-2000)

SAMSUNG MOTORS: Renault makes $354M offer to buy
French auto giant Renault SA has offered to take over South
Korea's troubled Samsung Motors Inc. for around 354 million
dollars, a newspaper report said Thursday.

The independent Hankyoreh Daily quoted business sources and
creditors of Samsung Motors as saying that Renault held a
meeting of board members late last month and decided to buy
Samsung Motors.  Renault reportedly suggested 400 billion
won (354 million dollars) to acquire the company.

Kim Sok-Rin, an official in charge of the sell-off of
Samsung Motors at Hanvit Bank, said Renault had yet to put
a price on the deal.  "Renault is now carrying out a due
diligence (study) and we hope to wrap up the negotiations
by the end of February," he told AFP.

A due diligence team has been inspecting Samsung Motors's
plant in the southern port of Pusan since Tuesday. Samsung
Motors was put into liquidation after its debts snowballed
to a whopping 4.3 trillion won (3.7 billion dollars) after
a disastrous start in early 1998 at the height of the
country's economic crisis.

Renault earlier said in a statement that it wished to
acquire Samsung Motors' assets but not its debts.
Renault already holds a 36.8-percent stake in Japan's
heavily-indebted Nissan Motors.

The daily also said that Renault had told creditors that it
wanted to buy bus and truck lines of another insolvent
automaker, Daewoo Motor Co. Renault offered to pay some 800
billion won (707 million dollars), including somewhere
between 220 billion won and 250 billion won to acquire bus

Seoul's Yonhap News Agency reported earlier that Renault
had proposed a purchase price of some 800 billion won and
Daewoo creditors were reacting positively to the offer.
Daewoo Motor Co.'s asset value Tuesday stood at 11.83
trillion won against liabilities of 17.91 trillion won.

Renault announced two weeks ago it was in exclusive talks
with the Samsung Group to buy crippled Samsung Motors, a
deal Samsung wants to wind up by the end of March. Reports
have said the French firm is hoping that the proposed
takeover will help win it a 10-percent share in South
Korea's auto market. The reports added Renault wants
Samsung Group to continue to retain a 20-percent stake.

South Korean officials said earlier this week that Renault
was also seeking to buy Daewoo Motor's commercial vehicle
division, but Renault has declined to confirm the report.
(Agence France Presse  20-Jan-2000)


TIME ENGINEERING: SingTech makes best offer for affiliate
Singapore Technologies & Telemedia Pte Ltd (SingTech) has
made what appears to be the best offer for Time dotCom Bhd
(previously Time Telecommunications) but it remains unclear
how the Government will view the proposal especially with
regards to the telco licence.

The Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee (CDRC) has
evaluated the revised bids from SingTech and Maxis
Communications Bhd and has conveyed its findings to the
Government, sources said.

SingTech is offering to buy 51 per cent of Time dotCom for
RM1.04 billion, which is substantially better than Maxis'
bid.  However, the final say rests with the Government as a
telco licence is involved, they added.  The Singapore
company might well need to find a local partner to
strengthen its chances of securing Government approval, an
analyst noted.

Maxis in turn has proposed to pay RM100 million cash and
RM1.4 billion in shares to Time dotCom creditors in its
revised bid.  Malaysia currently allows foreigners to own
up to 61 per cent in domestic telcos but the stake will
have to be reduced to 49 per cent over a period of five

At present, no single foreign party holds more than 33 per
cent in any of Malaysia's telecommunication concerns.
British Telecom Plc has a 33 per cent interest in Binariang
Bhd and Deutsche Telekom AG 21 per cent in Technology
Resources Industries Bhd.  Meanwhile, Swisscom AG's 30 per
cent stake in DiGi Swisscom Bhd will soon be taken over by
Telenor International AS.

As for the proposal to float Time dotCom to raise funds to
pay off creditors, the sources said no decision has yet
been made.  In any case, the proposal from SingTech is
believed to involve Time dotCom pursuing a listing exercise
to provide an exit for the creditors. The parent of Time
dotCom, Time Engineering Bhd which owes about RM4.5
billion, is currently under court protection from
creditors.  The court order expires on January 28.

On January 14, Time dotCom named Tan Sri Halim Saad as
managing director and five others to its board. Renong Bhd
owns 46.8 per cent of Time Engineering.  Time dotCom offers
fixed-line and mobile phone services, as well as Internet
operations through its state-of-the-art fibre-optic cable

Two other parties have expressed interest in acquiring the
company. They are Kejora Harta Bhd and Sapura
Telecommunications Bhd.  Kejora Harta's bid involves
recruiting a foreign company - Telstra Corp, France Telecom
SA, Lucent Technologies Inc, Nokia OYJ or Suns Microsystems
Inc -as a strategic partner, it was reported.

As for Sapura, sources said talks with its Hong Kong
partner Hutchison Whampoa have been put on hold following
the completion of a due diligence exercise.  (Singapore
Business Times  19-Jan-2000)


BW RESOURCES CORP.: SEC head accuses Estrada of cover-up
The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission
yesterday accused President Estrada of ordering him to stop
the investigation of alleged insider trading in shares of
the gambling firm BW Resources Corp.

Yasay also accused the President of ordering him to clear
Dante Tan, BWRC's controlling shareholder, of stock price
manipulations.  SEC Chair Perfecto Yasay made the
accusation under oath before a Senate committee probing
allegations of irregularities in the trading of BW shares
on the stock market as part of wider hearings into
reforming the country's securities laws.

"After I ordered the investigation of BW, I got a call from
the President complaining why I was investigating. I told
him it was my job to investigate . . . so he left it at
that. I continued with my direction to have PED
(Prosecution and Enforcement Department, a SEC unit under
Yasay) investigate and then the President called me up
again and told me to immediately terminate the
investigation," Yasay told the Senate committee on banks
and financial institutions.

Yasay testified that during the SEC probe, he received
calls from Mr. Estrada "to specifically clear certain
individuals insofar as the investigation is concerned."

"He specifically gave me instructions to clear Dante Tan of
any wrongdoing. He honestly believed that for one reason or
another he believed that Dante Tan was a victim here more
than an offender," he told the committee chaired by Sen.
Raul Roco.

In an interview after the hearing, Yasay told reporters
that Mr. Estrada also asked him to stop issuing statements
that would dampen BW's share prices.  "He was concerned on
the results of my statements would have on the price of
BW," he said.

These conversations occurred in October, he said. Mr.
Estrada has denied the allegations, saying through a
spokesperson: "I admire Mr. Yasay for his consistency as a

In a statement, BW's Tan said: "I do not believe the
President will do such a thing realizing the adverse impact
on the integrity of the exchange and on the presidency

He said he had "never asked nor have any plans of
soliciting the help of the President about this case since
it is in my best personal interest that the case runs its
normal course and clear my name and of the company of
alleged wrongdoing."

Mr. Estrada and Yasay have been at loggerheads since the
President took office in June 1998. An appointee of former
President Fidel Ramos, Yasay has tenaciously clung to his
job despite Mr. Estrada's attempts to oust him before his
term expires in 2004 to appoint his own SEC chief.

On Nov. 17 last year, the President ordered Yasay to stop
making comments that could affect share trading in view of
the growing controversy over BW.

"The SEC chairman is directed to refrain from issuing
public statements and policy declarations affecting the
securities market, particularly the trading transactions of
the Philippine Stock Exchange, without the prior approval
of the Office of the President," Mr. Estrada said in a

Mr. Estrada issued the memorandum following reports that
Yasay had been issuing statements that had been affecting
BW share prices.  On Dec. 3, Yasay confirmed attempts to
stop his agency from pursuing the investigation on possible
insider trading and price manipulation involving shares of

He said in an interview that there were pressures from
influential sectors to altogether stop the investigation on
BW Resources, citing the controversial memorandum issued by
Mr. Estrada.

"I think President Estrada was ill-advised in coming up
with the memorandum because the President's authority is
merely administrative. It does not have supervision and
control. If he tells me to do something or not to do
something, I am not bound by that," Yasay told reporters.

A day later, however, Yasay denied that the President
pressured him to cover up the BW investigation.

"I did not say that there was an attempt on the part of the
Office of the President to pressure the SEC into covering
up the BW Resources stock dealings," Yasay said in a

He said Mr. Estrada's memorandum ordering him to stop
investigating BW Resources was merely intended to ensure
proper coordination between the SEC and the Office of the

"There is no question that the President plays a pivotal
role in seeing through the implementation of programs
geared toward the development of the securities market as a
cheap source of funds for the capital requirements of
business," Yasay said.

Two cause-oriented groups, however, expressed concern over
Mr. Estrada's Nov. 17 memorandum, saying this "amounts to
control of the SEC by your office, which is plainly against
the law."

Kilosbayan Inc. and Bantay Katarungan specifically asked
Mr. Estrada in a letter to recall Executive Order 60, which
placed the SEC under his direct control, saying it
"distorts and mangles the concept of administrative

Kilosbayan president Jovito Salonga and Bantay Katarungan
chair Sedfrey Ordo¤ez said the executive order "is a clear
abuse of authority, a blatant violation of the law and
could become . . . a continuing reproach of your

The order, issued on Jan. 13, placed under the President's
supervision all SEC functions, "administrative or
otherwise, including the review of all matters not
expressly appealable to the Court of Appeals."

"We are deeply concerned about how your office treats
quasi-judicial agencies as if they were under your control
and direction," Salonga, a former Senate president, and
Ordo¤ez, a former justice secretary, said in their letter
to Mr. Estrada.

They said the order violated Presidential Decree 902-A,
which allowed the President to exercise "administrative
supervision" over quasi-judicial agencies like the SEC "but
not control and direction."

They said E0 60 distorted the concept of administrative
supervision defined in the Administrative Code, as opposed
to supervision and control.

"We believe it is for your own good and for the good of the
business community that this incident, once established,
does not continue," the two told Mr. Estrada. "Investors,
whether domestic or foreign--especially the reputable ones
whom you wish to attract--must know and perceive that the
President is fair and impartial and that under your
administration, there will always be a level playing field
because justice can and will be administered by quasi-
judicial agencies, such as the SEC, without fear or favor."

Early this month, Yasay confirmed that Mr. Estrada had
asked him to resign amid the planned Cabinet revamp aimed
at improving the President's popularity rating.  The SEC
chief refused to give up his post, saying he was guaranteed
a seven-year term that would end in 2004. He offered to
resign before his term expires but only after Congress
approves the Securities Act of 1999.

Last week, the President sharply criticized Yasay for
refusing to vacate his post after being given his marching

"He promised to resign last December. Instead he went on a
foreign trip," the President said.  "Even before we had the
revamp, I asked Executive Secretary Zamora to talk to him
and he (Yasay) promised to resign in December," Mr. Estrada
said when asked to confirm the report in a radio interview.
"If he has a word of honor, he should resign even though he
maintains he has security of tenure," Mr. Estrada said.

The following day, the President said Yasay may stay on if
he did not want to resign his post.

"That is (Yasay's) right under our Constitution. That is
the law we have to follow, and I know that he has security
of tenure. I don't have to be lectured on that," Mr.
Estrada said. "So I believe that he should stay put if he
does not (wish) to resign."

Yasay's allegations against Mr. Estrada could be
politically explosive. Bedeviled by allegations of
cronyism, corruption and incompetence, the Estrada
administration is battling to regain the confidence of the
business community and foreign investors, while the
President's personal popularity has fallen badly in recent
months.  BW's Tan, who purchased a large block of BW
Resources shares in the first half of 1999, reportedly
contributed to Mr. Estrada's presidential campaign the
previous year.

The SEC, stock exchange and Senate separately launched
investigations into sharp swings in BW's share price after
complaints from investors, some of whom lost large amounts
of money.  After opening in 1999 at P2.04, BW stock rose
sharply on rumors that gambling would become the company's
core business and that Tan would acquire a controlling
interest in the company.

The stock hit a record high of P107 on Oct. 11 after Macau
gambling tycoon Stanley Ho accepted an offer by Tan to take
control of BW.

A day later, the stock plunged to P68, leaving many
investors saddled with heavy losses. The stock went on to
extend its losses and closed Wednesday at P9.40.
Preliminary findings of the stock exchange probe were able
to confirm suspicions of orchestrated fraud that had led to
the artificial skyrocketing of BW shares and jeopardized
market confidence in the local bourse.

A well-placed government source said "there was indication
of fraudulent activities such as wash, wherein the buyer
and seller are the same and the transactions were done only
to create an artificial volume so that the market will free

"There was connivance with some brokerage firms," the
source added.

In a press statement issued Saturday, BW criticized the
leakage of the probe results. It urged the PSE to
investigate the leakage of the results of its investigation
by a ''PSE official (who) called in media men covering the
exchange last Friday and released the unofficial report.''

"We are concerned that such practice of releasing
unofficial information may be used as a tool for market
play and deteriorate the share price, creating a situation
of panic among shareholders and putting the listed company
at a disadvantage," BW president Eduardo Lim Jr. said in
the statement. (Philippine Daily Inquirer  20-Jan-2000)

BW RESOURCES CORP.: Estrada denies stopping probe
Philippine President Joseph Estrada yesterday denied he had
interfered with a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
investigation into the meteoric rise and fall of shares of
gaming firm BW Resources Corp.

BW, which saw its shares rise close to 5,000 per cent from
January to October last year, is now the subject of
separate investigations by the Philippine Stock Exchange,
the SEC and the Senate to determine whether there was price
manipulation.  SEC chairman Perfecto Yasay said in a Senate
hearing yesterday that Mr Estrada had asked him to
"immediately terminate" the commission's investigation into
BW because he believed its majority shareholder Dante
Tan was not guilty of any wrongdoing.  He specifically gave
me instructions to clear Dante Tan," Mr Yasay told
Senate investigators.

Mr Yasay later retracted his statement. "I haven't made
that statement," he told ABS-CBN News Channel. "I am making
that clarification and if I said it, I stand corrected, I
didn't mean to say it." He retracted after Mr Estrada
called him a "consistent liar".  Mr Estrada, through a
spokesman, said the issue was not discussed.

Mr Tan, tagged by newspapers as a close friend of the
president, said in a statement: "I do not believe the
president will do such a thing realising the adverse impact
on the integrity of the exchange and the presidency

Mr Tan added: "I have never asked nor have any plans of
soliciting the help of the president about this case since
it is in my best personal interest that the case run its
normal course and clear my name and of the company of
any alleged wrongdoing."

Mr Estrada said last week he had asked for Mr Yasay's
resignation in December as part of his plans for a Cabinet
revamp and the reorganisation of government agencies.
Mr Yasay has said he would not resign until vital
amendments to the Securities Act were passed. The
amendments would give more teeth to the SEC to oversee the
securities market. (Singapore Business Times  20-Jan-2000)

MINDANAO PORTLAND CEMENT: Asks SEC to lift capital hike bar
Cement manufacturer Mindanao Portland Cement Corp. (MPCC)
recently asked the corporate court to lift the writ of
preliminary injunction against the increase in the
company's authorized capital stock.

In a petition filed with the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC), MPCC said the injunction order issued by
the SEC hearing panel last October 26, 1999, "would cause
the company grave and irreparable damages." The "cloud of
doubt" caused by the injunction "becomes a stumbling block
to use these equity investments to fund improvement of
business operations, said MPCC.  "The company cannot move
forward with its plans for the corporation with full
force," MPCC said.

Earlier, the SEC issued a writ of preliminary injunction
barring MPCC officers from issuing shares of stock out of
the questioned increase in capital stock from 20 million
Philippine pesos (US$492,000 at PhP40.634:US$1) to PhP3
billion ($73.8 million). The decision came after MPCC
shareholders, led by Vicente C. Ponce, contested the entry
of Zeus Holdings, Inc. (ZHI) and its subscription to the
questioned increase in capital stock.

For its part, MPCC said the increase in capitalization and
the "huge amount" of funding sourced from the equity
investment of ZHI and other investors are being utilized by
MPCC to boost its standing in the industry. (Business World

NATIONAL STEEL CORP.: Firms dumping steel,hurting prices
Russian steelmakers are not the only threat to the
Malaysian-controlled National Steel -- even Malaysian
steelmakers are dumping their products into the country.

The Department of Trade and Industry-Bureau of Import
Services has found sufficient evidence to impose a dumping
bond on Ornasteel Enterprise of Malaysia for selling cold
rolled coils at 33 percent lower than its selling price in
Malaysia.  The case was filed by NSC, which is ironically
82.5-percent owned by Hottick Investments-Renong Bhd. group
of Malaysia.

A product is considered a dumped commodity if it is sold at
below its selling price in the source country. Some
companies dump their excess production to other countries
in order to protect their domestic industry.  Companies
found dumping their products in the Philippines are slapped
initially with an anti-dumping bond (the difference between
the dumped price and market price).

This becomes permanent through an anti-dumping duty if the
Tariff Commission upholds the findings of the DTI-BIS. The
DTI-BIS, however, had to suspend the implementation of the
anti-dumping bond after NSC shut down its Iligan plant due
to mounting losses and debt expenses, which the company
blamed on unfair competition from Russian steel being
dumped into the country. Aside from cold rolled coils, NSC
has likewise succeeded in getting an anti-dumping bond on
steel billet imports.

NSC has asked the Estrada administration to restrict the
importation of cheap Russian steel for the next four years
even though the struggling company can barely meet local
demand.  Based on its proposal, NSC wants a moratorium on
hot rolled coils (for long products such as steel bars) and
cold rolled coils (for flat products such as steel pipes
and GI sheets) from Russia starting next year.

From 2001 to 2003, NSC wants the government to impose a
quota on Russian steel which would limit import volume to
between 5 percent and 40 percent of these products' 1998
volume.  NSC has also demanded that the government impose
minimum values on Russian steel products, which it claims
are being sold at prices lower than their raw materials.
(Philippine Daily Inquirer  20-Jan-2000)

PILIPINAS SHELL PETROLEUM: PhP700M in 1999 under-recoveries
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. incurred 700 million
Philippine pesos (US$17.2 million) in "under-recoveries"
last year.  The oil refiner said this was due to the
doubling of crude prices from $10 per barrel in February to
$23.65 per barrel last month.

"Our inability to fully increase pump prices has translated
to under-recoveries of PhP700 million for us," Shell
president Oscar Reyes said.

The oil firm's under-recovery is estimated at PhP1.20 per
liter to PhP1.40 per liter after it heeded President Joseph
Estrada's request to temper the increase on petroleum
products last November. In December, the oil firm likewise
freezed any price increase in anticipation of the holiday
season. At present, the oil firm is still unable to
increase its prices.

"Last month oil prices increased from $23.12 per barrel to
$23.60 per barrel in anticipation of the Y2K problem. The
last increase we passed on was when crude prices was still
at $21.90 per barrel in September. We have not effected an
increase for the last quarter of the year that's why our
under-recoveries are piling up," he said.

In an interview, Pilipinas Shell president Oscar Reyes said
that there was no way the losses can be recovered, except
to increase prices of petroleum products.  However, he said
that oil companies are prepared to "temper" the increase in
the face of economic and social conditions of the country.
"It is always a sensitive issue when it comes to a price

Oil companies said that they would try to "hold out (any
price increases) as long as possible." However, they
admitted that not increasing prices sooner or later would
only result in more losses for the oil companies.

The Nov. 1 hike was based on imported crude of $19.50 per
barrel. On Nov. 2, the price of crude soared to $21.19 and
on Wednesday, it rose to $23.19. The December average price
of crude was $23.65 and it was placed at $23.64 as of
Tuesday. The average price of crude between Jan. 3 to 17 is
$22.64 per barrel.

Reyes said that they are studying, with the Department of
Energy (DOE), possible price adjustments based on the
prevailing prices of imported crude oil, the value of the
peso to the US dollar, the extend of their under
recoveries, and other political and social considerations.

Earlier, Caltex Philippines Inc. said that they might just
increase the prices of local petroleum products this month
although it may be "tempered."  Caltex Phils. president
Enrico Cavestany said that they are still holding talks
with Energy Secretary Mario Tiaoqui.

"We will not take any action (price hike) yet... as we are
conscious of the (weak) economy, and that we are amendable
to temper our increases," Cavestany said in a telephone

Unnamed Petron Corp. officials, meanwhile told The STAR
that they "will not move, and will wait for results"
referring to the meetings between the representatives of
the oil companies and Tiaoqui, who was designated as
representative of President Estrada.

In an interview last Tuesday, Tiaoqui said they have had
several discussions since the start of the millennium.
"We are still looking for a trend (in the price of crude
and foreign currency rates)," he said. "Although the
adjustments may be tampered."

Cavestany said Caltex is inclined to seriously consider a
suggestion by industrialist Raul Concepcion that the
projected increase be spread out in three tranches or a
monthly increase of roughly 30 centavos per liter in the
first quarter of the year.

Concepcion predicted that the oil players would increase
their price by an average 93 centavos per liter based on
the now defunct automatic price mechanism (APM) implemented
by the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) before the industry
was deregulated,

Officials of both Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and
Petron Corp. said that they were not in a position "at the
moment" to comment as they are still reviewing their
statistics and other critical factors, like foreign
currency adjustments and the price of imported crude oil.

In earlier interviews, Tiaoqui said he sees an increase of
P0.50 to P0.60 per liter price increase this month.
(Business World, The Philippine Star  20-Jan-2000)


KIAN HO BEARINGS/HOLDINGS: 3 directors to help recoup funds
Three directors of Kian Ho Bearings, presumably relatives
of ex-managing director Kwek Chee Tong, have stepped in to
help him repay $2.4 million to the firm.

Mr Kwek will first sell his shares in KHB Holdings to Kwek
Che Yong, Kwek Che Chuan and Kwek Chee Beng, who are other
shareholders and directors in KHB.  The proceeds will then
be assigned to Kian Ho, and be repaid in 18 monthly
repayments starting on Feb 1 together with interest of 9
per cent per annum.

KHB is a substantial shareholder of Kian Ho. The three
buyers will repay the instalments to Kian Ho directly, and
have also personally guaranteed their repayment. Kian Ho
did not state their relation to Kwek Chee Tong.

This follows a report last month by auditor Ernst & Young
that Kian Ho's net tangible assets per share could fall by
almost 27 per cent if the advances to and debts owed by
various parties to the firm are not recoverable.

Advances of $4.3 million were taken directly by or under
the authority of Kwek Chee Tong, who is being charged with
criminal breach of trust.  Kian Ho's sundry debtors account
also recorded advances to suppliers totalling about $8
million, and these were made to parties other than those
recorded in the books. (Singapore Business Times  20-Jan-


BANGKOK BANK: Posts annual loss
BANK OF ASIA: Posts annual loss
BANK OF AYUDHYA: Posts annual loss
KRUNG THAI BANK: Posts annual loss
SIAM COMMERICAL BANK: Posts annual loss
THAI FARMERS BANK: Posts annual loss
Most Thai banks are reporting operating profits due to
wider interest margins, but for the second year in a row
they posted massive net losses in 1999.

Banks' preliminary results submitted to the stock exchange
indicated that the banks cut losses by writing off bad
loans. But this was offset by setting aside provisions
against loan losses. The banks have met about 60 per cent
of the central bank's provisioning requirement, putting
them on the way to meeting 100 per cent of the requirement
which they must do by the end of 2000.

Thai banks, excluding Thai Military Bank, posted a combined
net loss of Bt320.23 billion in 1999, a slight improvement
from 1998's combined net loss of Bt325.86 billion,
according to figures compiled by The Nation.

Krung Thai Bank suffered the heaviest, posting a net loss
of Bt91.02 billion in 1999, compared to Bt61.58 billion in
1998. The state-owned bank has yet to inform the stock
exchange the reason behind its heavy losses.

Bangkok Bank lost Bt60.08 billion in 1999, compared with
Bt49.5 billion in 1998. The bank's statement attributed its
losses to its Bt67.7 billion provisioning set aside, up
from Bt48 billion in 1998.

But the bank said it experienced stronger results in fourth
quarter 1999, which contributed to overall better results
for the year. It benefited from the upward trend in the net
interest margins that had been established in the third

"Net interest margins increased to Bt4 billion for the
fourth quarter as compared to Bt3 billion in the previous
quarter, an increase of 34.1 per cent," Bangkok Bank said.
"This led to an operating profit for the quarter before
provisioning and tax, of Bt1.29 billion as compared to Bt76
million in the previous quarter."

Chartsiri Sophonpanich, Bangkok Bank's president, said:
"The results indicate that our efforts to address some of
the fundamentals of our business are paying off. Not only
are we moving in the right direction, but we are now
beginning to see results."

He also added that the bank's provisioning levels are
adequate to meet the full provisioning as required by the
Bank of Thailand. This, he said, will decline in line with
the restructuring of troubled loans.  "In the fourth
quarter of 1999, we successfully restructured troubled
loans of about Bt48 billion, bringing the total amount of
loans restructured in 1999 to 103 billion."

Thai Farmers Bank, Siam Commercial Bank and UOB Radanasin
Bank have moved ahead of their peers in fulfilling the 100
per cent provisioning requirements.  Banthoon Lamsam, Thai
Farmers Bank's president, said his bank's 1999 unaudited
financial results show the bank suffered a net loss of
Bt52.63 billion, against a Bt39.88-billion net loss in

He attributed the higher loss to the bank's aggressive move
to set loan loss provisions at once so that it can
concentrate on its future. Thai Farmers Bank was also
affected by the burden of supporting its finance subsidiary
Thanakit Plc, which eroded its earnings by Bt557.8 million.

Thanks to a transfer of Bt40 billion in problem assets to
its asset management company late last year, UOB Radanasin
Bank recorded a hefty net profit of Bt10.05 billion in
spite meeting 100 per cent of the loan-loss provisions. It
was the only Thai bank to turn a profit in 1999 due to a
massive capital injection from the Financial Institution
Development Fund.

United Overseas Bank of Singapore, which controls 75 per
cent stake in the bank. The remaining 25 per cent is held
by the FIDF.  An analyst at KGI Securities One Plc said
that the heavy net losses experienced by the Thai banks
were largely in line with expectations. This round of
provisions, she said, will be the last big round facing the
Thai banks, which are slowly recovering from the financial
crisis over the past three years.

Larger interest margins helped the Thai banks contain
losses in 1999, the analyst said. Decreases in the number
of non-performing loans have also improved the banks'
balance sheets.

Siam Commercial Bank, Thailand's fourth largest bank,
reported that it lost a total of 48.73 billion baht in
1999, as against a loss of 12.41 billion baht in the
previous year.  SCB's net loss was due to its setting aside
of 51.50 billion baht provisions for potential loan
defaults as required by the Bank of Thailand (BOT). If it
were not for provisions against bad loans made in April
1999, SCB would have made a profit of 2.77 billion baht.

The SET provisions were required after the bank sold more
than half of itself to the Finance Ministry and foreign
financial institutions in a Government-subsidized plan.  In
its report to SET, Bank of Asia said it lost a total of
20.76 billion baht, including the provisions set against
bad debts of 15.66 billion baht. In 1998, the bank
registered a total loss of 9.57 billion baht.

BAY's strength lies in its high accumulated assets due to
its successful fund mobilization. This added another 43
billion baht in assets which were divided into 17.00
billion baht common shares and 26.00 billion baht SLIPs
(Stapled Limited Interest)

Bank of Asia, the Thai unit of ABN Amro Holdings of the
Netherlands, said its loss in 1999 widened 50 percent as
the bank set aside higher provisions against bad loans.
The ninth largest bank in Thailand posted a net loss of
11.58 billion baht, as compared with a 7.70 billion baht
loss in 1998.

BOA's provisions for bad loans rose 72 percent from 1998 to
9.10 billion baht. It raised 13 billion baht in shares
sales, the main portion to ABN Amro which now owns three-
fourths of the bank.

Bangkok Metropolitan Bank said its full-year loss narrowed
from 1998 as it wrote off fewer bad loans ahead of an
expected sale of the bank by the Government. BMA said its
1999 loss was 55.99 billion baht, or 1.53 baht per share,
from a loss of 55.89 billion baht, or 0.02 baht per share,
a year earlier.

Standard Chartered Nakornthon, a Thai unit of UK-based
Standard Chartered, reported that its loss in 1999 was
recorded at 1.92 billion baht, or 4.43 baht per share, as
against a loss of 3.99 billion baht or 20.84 baht per share
in 1998.

Investors yesterday sold out banking shares, anticipating
that Thai banks will continue to report heavy losses for
1999. The banking-sector index fell 5.17 points, though the
overall market showed a slight gain.  (Business Day, The
Nation  21-Jan-2000; The Nation  22-Jan-2000)

BANGKOK METROPOLITAN BANK: Mulls retirement plan
As a final measure to reduce costs prior to privatisation,
Bangkok Metropolitan Bank (BMB) is launching an early
retirement programme ahead of the expected arrival of its
new strategic investor late next month.

"We are ready to welcome a new investor," bank president
Somchai Sakulsurarat, told the press yesterday.

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp (HSBC) is expected
to emerge as the winning bidder for the bank.  BMB said the
new round of early retirements would help reduce its
workforce by around 700-1,000 staff throughout the country.
The bank currently employs 4,900 staff.

A source at the bank said that it had actually concluded a
deal with a new investor at the end of last year, but
needed to wait for another nationalised bank, Siam City
Bank (SCIB), to conclude its own privatisation plans within
the next month or so before an official announcement could
be made.

"The Bank of Thailand wants to publicise both deals at the
same time," he added.

The Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) and the US-based
Newbridge fund are tipped by many analysts to become SCIB's
strategic partners.   BMB's Somchai said that the major
guidelines for the sale of the bank had already been agreed
to in principle, but the parties concerned needed a little
more time to work out the finer details of the project.

He declined to name which foreign institutions were
involved, but he did say that both the HSBC and US-based
Citibank were good financial institution that could bring
technological know-how as well as funding to the bank.
In addition, Somchai said that BMB still planned to set up
its own asset-management company to oversee its bad debts,
given that as a nationalised bank, the government had to
provide a gain/loss sharing guarantee for the new investor.

While the privatisation process continues, BMB is planning
to reduce its non-performing loans (NPLs) to 40 per cent of
total loans by the end of the year from the current 66 per
cent, or Bt120 billion.  According to Somchai, problem
loans should fall accordingly as the country's economy was
now well and truly on the road to recovery, and low
interest rates should also help the bank restructure its
remaining debts.

Apart from a projected drop in NPLs, BMB also expects its
lending growth to stay at around 8 per cent for 2000. As of
December last year, the bank's lending portfolio accounted
for Bt180 billion and its total deposit amounted to Bt155
billion. (The Nation  19-Jan-2000)

NAKORNTHAI STRIP METAL: Swasdi seeks rehab -- again
Maybe the economy is improving after all -- Swasdi
Horrungruang, one of Thailand's best-known "strategic
NPLs", has now jumped on the restructuring bandwagon.

"Yes, in the past I said I wouldn't pay my creditors. But I
think that after three years, we really do have to work
hard and settle our debts," said the steel tycoon

Mr Swasdi, head of the NTS steel group, said "life would
begin again" after debt restructuring for his two main
firms-NTS Steel and Nakornthai Strip Mill-was completed in
the next two months.  He said NTS was now in talks to merge
with two other steel producers, Bangkok Steel Industry and
Siam Steel.  The deal would double production capacity for
NTS to two million tonnes per year.

Total debt owed by NTS now stands at 18 billion baht, with
another 36 billion baht owed by Nakornthai Strip Mill, with
both deals being restructured under the Bank of Thailand's
supervision.  Mr Swasdi said creditors and borrowers have
both changed their mentality over the course of the crisis.
"I think there's a lot more give and take on both sides,"
he said.

Yesterday creditors agreed to restructure 2.64-billion-baht
in debt held by Sri Racha Harbour, another firm in the NTS
group. The company had ceased payments to creditors since
early 1997.

"I actually had money to pay, but I needed to use it
internally, for my staff and machinery," Mr Swasdi
admitted.  "If you don't run your production line, then
your equipment only deteriorates and assets are lost."

A 50-million-baht payment was made to the firm's seven
creditors. Interest would be reduced to minimum lending
rates, with principal payments starting in 2002 and full
repayment expected within 10-13 years.  Sri Racha Harbour's
prospects were also expected to improve as cash flow for
other firms within the NTS group increased.

Mr Swasdi was optimistic that prospects for the steel
industry would be brighter in the future.  "If things don't
improve within three years, then well, I might just move to
another country," he said jokingly. (Bangkok Post  20-Jan-

SINO-THAI ENG.AND CONST.: Accepted for rehabilitation
Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc reports that the
Central Bankruptcy Court has accepted its request to enter
a rehabilitation process, according to a filing to the Thai
Stock Exchange of Thailand.

The Court has appointed the company's president and
chairman of the advisory board, Anutin Charnvirakul,
rehabilitation planner.  Its shares will remain suspended
from trading on the stock exchange until the company's
creditors and the Court approve a debt-reform plan. (The
Nation  19-Jan-2000)

SRIRACHA HARBOUR CO: Confident of debt approval
Despite having stopped servicing its debts since late 1996,
Sriracha Harbour Co is confident that its creditors will
approve the Bt2.6-billion debt-restructuring proposal

If approved by the banks, the Sriracha Harbour deal would
be the first debt-restructuring programme of a company
owned by steel tycoon Sawasdi Horrungruang. Sawasdi's other
troubled companies include NTS Steel Plc and Nakorn Thai
Strip Mill Plc.

Sriracha Harbour's debt-restructuring proposal simply
involves the rescheduling of its debt repayment term to
between 10-13 years and reduction of interest charges on
its loans from about 18-19 per cent to the minimum lending
rate (MLR), which is currently around 9 per cent.

Bangkok Bank, Krung Thai Bank, Siam City Bank, Industrial
Finance Corporation of Thailand, and the Asset Management
Corporation are some of the company's major creditors.
A company financial executive said he was confident that
the debt plan would be approved by the banks, which
together hold at least 75 per cent of the total debts, as
required by law.

She said the company had witnessed an improvement in cash
flow and its gross margin had now increased to over 30 per
cent, thanks to the increase in the country's export
activities.  A Bank of Thailand official confirmed that the
first vote meeting by Sriracha Harbour's creditors would be
held at the central bank today.

Sawasdi holds more than half of Sriracha Harbour, which has
a registered capital of Bt5 billion.  All of Sriracha
Harbour's creditors are members of the Corporate Debt
Restructuring Advisory Committee (CDRAC). Therefore, if the
debt plan were to be approved by at least 75 per cent of
the banks, the rehabilitation case would not have to go
through the cumbersome court process. (The Nation  19-Jan-

THAI PETROCHEMICAL INDUS.: Share-sale roadshow ahead
Thai Petrochemical Industry Plc (TPI) plans a road show for
the sale of shares worth US$1 billion in a bid to increase
capital by the third quarter of this year, group executive
vice-president for finance Wachiraphantu Promprasert said

The schedule was dependent on the Central Bankruptcy Court
approving the firm's rehabilitation plan within the middle
of this year, he said in an interview with iTV.  The
company has already filed a petition with the court and the
first hearing is scheduled for Feb 14.

The proceeds from the recapitalisation, which is a crucial
part of TPI's debt-restructuring plan, will be used to buy
back the integrated petrochemical firm's debts at 60-70 per
cent discount. Creditors are entitled to sell back their
loans extended to TPI on a voluntary basis.  Almost all
newly issued shares would be sold to foreign mutual funds,
according to Wachiraphant.

TPI, Thailand's largest corporate debtor with US$3.5
billion in outstanding debts, will meet with its creditors
next week to discuss in detail the capital-increase plan
following the long-awaited debt-reform negotiations. (The
Nation  19-Jan-2000)

TOTAL ACCESS COMM.: Restructure to bring teamwork,partner
Another major management restructuring aimed at
strengthening teamwork is expected at Total Access
Communication Plc after it signs a deal with a strategic

Boonchai Bencharongkul, managing director of TAC, said he
expected to conclude and sign a deal with a foreign partner
within a month. Before the signing, he said, management
restructuring would be necessary to "welcome" the new
partner.  Some departments might be dissolved and some
subsidiaries might go, he said.

He did not name the partner but an industry source said
that Telenor from Norway was the most likely contender.
Telenor is one of the biggest telecom companies in Europe
and is in the process of merging with a Swedish telecom
company, Telia. If the merger is successful, it will become
the largest telecom company in Scandinavia.

Telenor has tried many times to tie up with TAC but
withdrew to concentrate on talks with Telia. The source
said Telenor was acquiring 25% of TAC.  If TAC gets a
strategic partner, market competition will intensify. The
source said Somers, a UK investment company, which holds a
major share in United Communications Industry Plc (Ucom),
the parent company of TAC, played an important role in
concluding the deal. The other player in Somers is Credit
Suisse First Boston, which manages the company.  Mr
Boonchai said that he expected the new management structure
to be ready in March.

"This means that by March TAC will come under the new
management structure with a foreign strategic partner as a
new shareholder," he said.

Fresh funds from the strategic partner would be injected in
TAC to help resolve all the problems, he said.  Referring
to the internal conflict, Mr Boonchai said that TAC was
like a big family in which family members quarrel with one
another, "but sooner or later, the quarrel will cease and
the situation will improve".

Commenting on resentment by some staff at the appointment
of Somwong Pongstaporn as marketing director to replace
Poosana Premanoch, Mr Boonchai said that in every
management change, it was hardly possible to satisfy all

"I would like to call on all staff to compromise and co-
operate for the sake of the company. This was more
important than personal feelings," he said.

Mr Boonchai added that Mr Somwong would not be allowed to
become "a one-man show". Instead there would be a team
spirit under this new management restructure, he said.
Mr Somwong refused to comment, saying he didn't want to
become news.

Mr Boonchai also said that he had sent a letter to Muslim
communities explaining that the removal of Mustapha Mun-nga
as the managing director of TAC was not a dismissal but
just to prepare for competition. He said he regretted
having no chance to explain this to Mr Mustapha on the day.
"Mr Mustapha might have been upset as he left the company's
office." (Bangkok Post  20-Jan-2000)

TOTAL ACCESS COMM.: S&P lowers ratings outlook
Standard & Poor's Ratings Group affirmed its doublt-B-minus
long-term credit rating on Thai cellular phone operator
Total Access Communication PCL, but lowered its ratings
outlook to negative from stable.

The downgrade reflects S&P's concern over the ability of
the Singapore-listed company to refinance debt coming due
in May 2001, the credit rating agency said.  Total Access
is now talking with potential strategic partners to take a
stake in the company, which could help its finances.

But S&P said any equity injection from a foreign partner
would stabilize the rating at the current double-B minus
rather than lead to an upgrade.  Market talk says Norway's
state telecommunications company, Telenor ASA, is the
fontrunner to take a stake in Total Access soon. The Thai
company says a deal is imminent, but has declined to name
the proposed partner.

Despite the near-term pressure on finances, the company
still has a reasonably attractive business profile
supporting the current rating, S&P said. (The Asian Wall
Street Journal  19-Jan-2000)

S U B S C R I P T I O N  I N F O R M A T I O N

Troubled Company Reporter -- Asia Pacific is a daily
newsletter co-published by Bankruptcy Creditors' Service,
Inc., Trenton, NJ USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Washington,
DC USA. Darryl Henning, Managing Editor, Feliz Ordona and
Cristina Pernites, Editors.

Copyright 2000.  All rights reserved.  ISSN: 1520-9482.

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