TCRAP_Public/000315.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

             Wednesday, March 15, 2000, Vol. 3, No. 52

                                  Headlines


* A U S T R A L I A *

NSW MINERALS: Price plunge derails comeback hopes
TELSTRA: Sell-off plan at risk


* C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G *

CHUN TAI HOLDINGS: Given deadline on debt effort
CHUN TAI INDUSTRIES: Given deadline on debt effort
CHUN TAI TOYS: Given deadline on debt effort
LI TZAR-KAI, RICHARD: Hikari loss put at US$601m
STIME WATCH INT'L HOLDING: Tells HKSE of proposed changes


* I N D O N E S I A *

PT BANK MANDIRI: Told to transfer bad loans
PT BANK NEGARA: NPLs transferred to IBRA
PT CHANDRA ASRI: Creditor dragging out rehab talks
PT TIRTAMAS COMEXINDO: Gets 6-month debt suspension
TEXMACO GROUP: NPLs transferred to IBRA


* J A P A N *

MEDIARING.COM: Internet bursting drops stock
MITSUBISHI MOTORS CORP.: Debt-ridden co. looks for partner
PACIFIC CENTURY REG.DEVEL.: Internet bursting drops stock
SOFTBANK: Internet bursting drops stock
SONY CORP.: Internet bursting drops stock
TAISHO LIFE INS.CO.: More hurdles after Claremont deal
TOKYO STEEL MFG.CO.: Expects to post annual loss
VENTURE MFTG: Internet bursting drops stock


* K O R E A *

KOREA HEAVY INDUS.AND CONSTR.: Chair responsible for loss
SAMSUNG MOTOR: Tough negotiating begins


* M A L A Y S I A *

ADVANCE SYNERGY BHD: Annual loss expected
RENONG: UEM to raise RM3.75b through listing of Plus


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

NATIONAL POWER CORP.: Losses hit P4B in '99
PILIPINO TEL.CORP.: SEC orders fine paid


* S I N G A P O R E *

TONG TIEN SEE CONSTRUCTION: Placed under judicial mgmt.
VENTURE MANUFACTURING: Leading tech stock falls 20 percent


* T H A I L A N D *

IRIDIUM SOUTHEAST ASIA: Operator closes down, demise near
SAMITIVEJ PLC: Notifies SET of civil suit filed vs. it
TELECOMASIA CORP.: Tells SET of closing shareholders book
THAI PETROCHEMICAL INDUSTRY PLC: Losing PR battle?
THAI PETROCHEM.INDUS.: Bad loans, little improvement


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A U S T R A L I A
=================

NSW MINERALS: Price plunge derails comeback hopes
-------------------------------------------------
The NSW coal industry's recovery in 1998-99 has been offset
by a deteriorating situation caused by the plunge in
contract prices for export coal since last April, according
to a survey.

A survey of 86 per cent of the State's coal producers found
that overall net profit in 1998-99 was $178 million,
compared with a loss of $186 million in 1997-98.  However,
the NSW Minerals Council said profits had "deteriorated
seriously" since April 1, when contract prices for export
coal fell significantly.

Council chairman Mr Bob Humphries said the fall in export
contract prices would be exacerbated when lower prices took
effect next month.  Last week, thermal prices were settled
for the coming year, with the benchmark price going down a
further $1.20 an 18 per cent drop over two years.
Mr Humphries said he hoped this was the bottom of a pricing
cycle and that the outlook for the next five years was more
positive.

However, the NSW industry continued to struggle, with an
average return on shareholders' funds of less than 5 per
cent for the past 10 years.

"In terms of the last decade, I don't believe the industry
has made anywhere near enough return on shareholders'
funds, and that has to be worrying looking out," Mr
Humphries said.  "I think you can see it reflecting in the
Australian coal industry in the number of mines up for
sale."

Twenty-two companies, making up 86 per cent of the NSW
industry, responded to the annual survey by
PricewaterhouseCoopers.  The bulk of the profit recorded
for the year came from three respondents. Overall, results
would have been down if those three were excluded. The
survey also forecast the lowest capital expenditure in a
decade - $339 million in 1999- 2000.

Mr Humphries said positives included an increase in
employee output per year of 18.4 per cent on the previous
year, which indicated that productivity was improving
strongly.  A more competitive rail-freight regime and
improvement in the Port of Newcastle's operations also
contributed to improved results.

"We are expecting further improvements in access charges
this year with the final phase-out of the monopoly rent,"
Mr Humphries said.

The number of employees in the NSW coal mining industry was
also forecast to fall from 10,562 to 9,908 in 1999-2000.
The survey included Austral Coal Ltd, BHP Coal, CIM
Resources Ltd and Rio Tinto Coal Pty Ltd. (Australian
Financial Review  14-March-2000)

TELSTRA: Sell-off plan at risk
------------------------------
The Howard Government was last night attempting to salvage
the full sale of Telstra Corp as the company's chief
executive, Dr Ziggy Switkowski, called for a more realistic
political debate on its privatisation.

Despite major reservations within Coalition ranks, the
Government is pushing to keep the sale of its 50.1 per cent
stake in Telstra on the agenda in order to address - as
part of its Budget strategy - the rising demands from rural
and regional areas.  But the sale is an extremely sensitive
issue, with some National Party MPs hardening their
opposition and the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard,
yesterday failing to specifically commit a fully privatised
Telstra to maintaining services in the bush.

In an unusual intervention in the highly charged political
debate, Dr Switkowski last night released a letter sent to
every Federal parliamentarian in which he defended the
company's commitment to the bush.  Dr Switkowski called for
the political debate to be "grounded on the reality" of
service quality, rapidly changing technology and increased
market competition.

Calling on Parliament not to shackle the company with
unrealistic commercial demands, he said: "People have to
accept that we can only maintain our high level of
investment if we are able to operate competitively and
generate necessary returns to provide sufficient funds for
reinvestment."

In a series of meetings yesterday, National Party MPs put
forward options for a package to address their concerns
about the level of telecommunications service in regional
areas.  One option attracting growing support among
Coalition MPs is for the universal service obligation
scheme to be opened to competition.  This would allow
telcos other than Telstra to deliver services to the bush
under the scheme, which is financed through an industry
fund.

A briefing yesterday at Parliament House by Optus
executives impressed key Government MPs on the benefits of
using satellite technology to deliver telephony, pay-TV and
internet services to rural areas.  Telstra has been under
heavy fire from Federal MPs since its announcement last
week that it was shedding up to 16,000 jobs, at the same
time as it announced a record $2.1 billion half yearly
profit.

In an attempt to allay concerns that Telstra's job-shedding
program will fall disproportionately on the bush, Dr
Switkowski said the company had a "solemn commitment to
improve service to all Australians".

"There has been much political commentary to the effect
that it will be regional and rural Australia which bears
the brunt of this reduction," he said.  "This has no basis
in fact and is inconsistent with our history."

Dr Switkowski told the MPs that Telstra would "look closely
at transferring functions into regional Australia."  The
Government's attempts at damage control on the Telstra
debate were undermined when a Liberal MP - and chairwoman
of Parliament's primary industries and regional services
committee - Ms Fran Bailey, said the "loss of any further
jobs in regional Australia is going to exacerbate the
problems that currently exist" with telecommunications.

This contradicted the Prime Minister's comments in
Parliament, that job losses did not mean lower quality
services.  As Labor focused its attack on the Government's
handling of Telstra, Mr Howard said the best way to ensure
better services to the bush were under the universal
service obligation - which provides a legislative guarantee
that all Australians are entitled to a basic level of
communications service.

"This notion that the only way you can have standards, the
only way you can deliver services, is for the Government to
own [Telstra] is totally fallacious," Mr Howard said.

But Opposition leader Mr Kim Beazley said Mr Howard had
abandoned his commitment last month to draw a line under
service levels in regional Australia. The so-called Nyngan
declaration was "out the window", Mr Beazley said.

"John Howard was not able to ensure that a fully privatised
Telstra would not withdraw services or reduce service
levels in regional Australia," Mr Beazley said. (Australian
Financial Review  14-March-2000)


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C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G
==============================

CHUN TAI HOLDINGS: Given deadline on debt effort
CHUN TAI INDUSTRIES: Given deadline on debt effort
CHUN TAI TOYS: Given deadline on debt effort
--------------------------------------------------
Consumer-electronics maker Chun Tai Holdings has 10 days to
satisfy a judge that restructuring steps are being taken to
hold off two winding-up petitions against subsidiaries.

Mrs Justice Doreen Le Pichon gave Chun Tai Toys (China) and
Chun Tai Industries until March 24 to report on the
restructuring.  The Court of First Instance heard three
options being considered, all with different ramifications
for creditors.  With regard to Chun Tai Toys, 26 per cent
of creditors were in favour of a scheme, but this number
was achieved in a limited time scale.

"You have to give the court some indication of when you can
realistically put forward a proposal," Mrs Justice Le
Pichon said. "At the moment, you have too many options."

If she is satisfied with the progress report, the judge
will allow a four-week adjournment.  If not, the case will
be heard again on March 27.  Chun Tai first experienced
financial difficulties a year ago when a creditor sued the
company for $433,165.  It then negotiated with 25 banks and
financial institutions to restructure $290 million in
debts. (South China Morning Post  14-March-2000)

LI TZAR-KAI, RICHARD: Hikari loss put at US$601m
------------------------------------------------
Richard Li Tzar-kai, fresh from winning the US$38.1 billion
battle for Cable & Wireless HKT, has made a US$601 million
paper loss on his personal investment in Internet giant
Hikari Tsushin in just one month.

Mr Li, chairman of Pacific Century CyberWorks, holds
510,200 Hikari Tsushin shares.  The shares were acquired on
February 11 via a share-swap deal with Hikari Tsushin
president Yasumitsu Shigeta. The deal valued the shares at
213,000 yen (about HK$15,570) each, or US$1.03 billion for
the stake.

However, Hikari Tsushin's shares have plunged almost 60 per
cent in the past month, and 47 per cent in the past week,
amid rumours Mr Shigeta had been involved in insider
trading.  Although Hikari Tsushin denied the rumours, the
counter continued to weaken. Yesterday, it fell 5.9 per
cent to close at 88,500 yen on panic selling.  This
represents a fall of 58.45 per cent since February 11,
valuing Mr Li's stake at about US$429 million.

Mr Shigeta, who acquired 332.52 million CyberWorks shares
at HK$23.40 each in the deal with Mr Li, has also suffered
a paper loss. Since the swap, the counter has dropped
HK$2.70, putting Mr Shigeta's paper loss at HK$897.8
million.  Meanwhile, Alex Arena, group managing director at
CyberWorks, confirmed that Mr Li and News Corp chairman
Rupert Murdoch had held a meeting last week.

"It was only a brief, general business discussion, just an
exchange of views," Mr Arena said.

However, no decision had been reached as to the fate of the
Star TV-HKT joint venture, he said.  Analysts said
CyberWorks was dragged down by Hikari Tsushin's sluggish
performance and concerns about other Asian Internet stocks.
CyberWorks stock price eased HK$1.45 yesterday to close at
HK$20.70.

Winston Lam Wing-hang, fund manager at Nikko Global Asset
Management, said CyberWorks would have strong support at
HK$18.60, the minimum price Britain's Cable & Wireless
would accept for HKT's merger with CyberWorks.  Jonathan
Iu, analyst at SG Emerging Market Equity Research, said
selling pressure on CyberWorks would continue in the short
term. (South China Morning Post  14-March-2000)

STIME WATCH INT'L HOLDING: Tells HKSE of proposed changes
---------------------------------------------------------
Stime Watch International Holding Limited, through CHEUNG
Lik Chung, Chairman, notifies the Stock Exchange of Hong
Kong, that it proposes to change its English name to
"Medtech Group Company Limited" and its Chinese name to
"*", for the purpose of identification only. The Company
also proposes to change it principal place of business.

The Company gives notice to convene a special general
meeting ("SGM") of the Company to be held at 4:00 p.m. on 8
April 2000 (Saturday) at which a special resolution will be
proposed for the shareholders to consider, and if thought
fit, to approve a change (subject to the change being
approved by the Registrar of Companies in Bermuda) of the
name of the Company to "Medtech Group Company Limited" and
to adopt the Chinese name of "*" as the Company's new
Chinese name for identification purposes (together
hereinafter the "Name Change").

Upon the date of registration of a certified copy of the
shareholders resolution referred to above by the Registrar
of Companies in Bermuda, the Name Change will become
effective.  The Name Change is proposed following the
successful restructuring of the Company in February 2000
(which completion of restructuring was effectively
announced by the Company by way of a press announcement
dated 16 February, 2000 in relation to the completion of
the Company's rights issue) upon which the liquidity
problems of the Company and its subsidiaries ("Group") were
effectively resolved.

The directors of the Company consider that the proposed new
name of the Company will reflect more appropriately the
Group's continuing commitment to carry on its existing
business activities of manufacturing and selling of watch
and watch components, as well as the Group's commitment in
the pursuit of suitable business opportunities which are
complementary to the Group's existing business.

A circular which will deal with, amongst other things,
arrangements with respect to new share certificates bearing
the new name of the Company (assuming the special
resolution for change of name is passed) together with
another copy of the notice convening the SGM and a form of
proxy for use in relation to the SGM will be despatched to
the shareholders of the Company shortly. A further
announcement will be made when the proposed change of name
takes effect.

Additionally, the Company wishes to announce that the
Company's principal place of business in Hong Kong will be
changed from Units 9-10, 10th Floor, Vanta Industrial
Centre, 21-33 Tai Lin Pai Road, Kwai Chung, New
Territories, Hong Kong to Rooms 2701-2702, Far East Finance
Centre, 16 Harcourt Road, Admiralty, Hong Kong upon the
date on which the Name Change becomes effective. [*= is
Chinese symbol] (Hong Kong Stock Exchange  14-March-2000)


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I N D O N E S I A
=================

PT BANK MANDIRI: Told to transfer bad loans
-------------------------------------------
Finance minister Bambang Sudibyo said on Monday state Bank
Mandiri should "immediately" transfer its remaining bad
loans to the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA).
He said there should be no more delays in the transfer of
the bad loans to the agency.

"All category five (bad) loans must be transferred (to
IBRA)," Bambang told reporters following a monthly meeting
with the central bank.

Under the government bank recapitalization program, all
recapitalized banks must transfer their bad loans or
category five loans to IBRA to have a clean balance sheet.
The government completed the recapitalization of Bank
Mandiri in December by injecting some Rp 178 trillion worth
of bonds.

Bank Mandiri passed some Rp 76 trillion in bad loans to
IBRA last year. This represents about half of its total bad
loans.  Bank Mandiri, the country's largest bank, was
formed in July 1999 through a merger of Bank Bumi Daya
(BBD), Bank Dagang Negara (BDN), Bank Ekspor Impor (Bank
Exim) and Bank Pembangunan Indonesia (Bapindo).

Separately, IBRA senior official Andreas Bunanta said on
Monday that there were about Rp 23 trillion in bad loans
left at Bank Mandiri.  He said the bank said it wanted to
manage and restructure about Rp 9 trillion of the loans
until June this year.  He said the remaining Rp 14 trillion
should have been transferred by the end of last year.

State banks were treated as the cash cows of politicians
and well-connected businessmen in the past during the
authoritarian rule of former president Soeharto.  There has
been increasing concern that state banks joining the
government bank recapitalization program were trying to
keep the bad loans out of IBRA's hands.

State Bank BNI has recently been attacked by the media on
allegations that it was trying to keep bad loans owed by
integrated textile Texmaco Group.  The loans were finally
transferred by BNI late last week after the central bank
issued a ruling for the transfer. The Texmaco loans
transferred by BNI totaled more than Rp 9 trillion.

Texmaco was hit by controversy last year after a minister
revealed that the company had used its connection with
former president Soeharto to obtain more than Rp 9 trillion
in loans from Bank BNI.  The government is set to soon
recapitalize publicly listed Bank BNI. (The Jakarta Post
14-March-2000)

PT BANK NEGARA: NPLs transferred to IBRA
TEXMACO GROUP: NPLs transferred to IBRA
----------------------------------------
PT Bank Negara Indonesia has transferred its non-performing
loans, including those owed by the Texmaco Group, to the
Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency, the body's chairman
Cacuk Sudarijanto said.

Speaking to reporters at the central bank, Sudarijanto said
BNI
was temporarily transferred to the supervision of IBRA from
Bank Indonesia to enable the transaction.

"This was a technical matter to enable the transfer of
Texmaco's credit to proceed smoothly," Finance Minister
Bambang Sudibyo said. (AFX News Limited  13-March-2000)

PT CHANDRA ASRI: Creditor dragging out rehab talks
--------------------------------------------------
The Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) said here
Marubeni of Japan has sought to drag out talks on
restructuring the debts of PT Chandra Asri Petrochemical
Center (CAPC).

Eko Santoso Budianto, deputy chairman of IBRA said
Marubeni, one of CAPC's creditors, was not serious in
seeking to restructure the debts of the giant
petrochemical company at a meeting last week. Eko said the
meeting on Friday was expected to come to a conclusion on
share split but Marubeni said it was not yet prepared to
discuss that issue with IBRA, now controlling CAPC.

The government agency has suggested converting the debts of
the company into equity. CAPC, the only producer of olefin
products in the country, was built at a cost of US$ 2.04
billion and US$ 1.14 billion of which were in loans.

"I suspect that Marubeni deliberately is seeking to delay
restructuring of CAPC's debts," he said, adding that he
would report the failure in Friday's talks to the
government.

He said the governments of Indonesia and Japan have agreed
on a loan package of US$ 950 million to save ailing CAPC
from worse condition.  "Immediate solution would save the
company from falling lower in value when the government
offers it to other investors," he said.

Earlier Eko said if the company could operate normally it
would be able to repay US$ 500 million of its debts.
(Asia Pulse  14-March-2000)

PT TIRTAMAS COMEXINDO: Gets 6-month debt suspension
---------------------------------------------------
The commercial court granted a request by PT Tirtamas
Comexindo for a six-month suspension of payment, over-
ruling a bankruptcy suit against the company by the
Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA).

"The request for a suspension of payments is allowed,"
chief judge Mahdi Soroinda Nasution told the final hearing
on the case.  "(The decision was made) in consideration of
the need to reverify the debts and for creditors'
meetings."

PT Tirtamas Comexindo is a trading company owned by Hashim
Djojohadikusumo.  (AFX News Limited  13-March-2000)


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J A P A N
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MEDIARING.COM: Internet bursting drops stock
PACIFIC CENTURY REG.DEVEL.: Internet bursting drops stock
SOFTBANK: Internet bursting drops stock
SONY CORP.: Internet bursting drops stock
VENTURE MFTG: Internet bursting drops stock
---------------------------------------------------------
The bursting of the Japanese Internet bubble and a 6.6 per
cent collapse in Taiwanese stocks yesterday on political
concerns sent regional markets skidding to their lowest
point in months, raising fears that if Nasdaq follows suit,
a vicious cycle of selling might be on the cards.

Weighed down by a 20 per cent crash in leading electronics
counter Venture Manufacturing and a 17 per cent meltdown in
punting favourite Pacific Century Regional Developments,
the Straits Times Index plunged 53.58 points or 2.6 per
cent to end at 2,042.66, its lowest since the end of
October last year.

"The big question is whether Nasdaq can resume its upward
momentum after the tech sell-off in Japan and Korea," said
an institutional source here. "This is all the more
important now that we know earnings for the new economy
stocks are more likely to disappoint than surprise on the
upside."

On Friday, Venture reported a 31 per cent profit rise for
1999 that was below the market consensus of 41 per cent
growth. Venture crashed $5.60 to $22.70 yesterday with 3.4
million shares changing hands.  Two weeks ago, Internet
firm Mediaring.com reported a shocking loss of $26 million
for 1999 and said it expects losses for a few more years
yet. Its shares, which were offered at 53 cents last
November and hit a high of $2.01 in January, yesterday
dropped 7.3 per cent to $1.01.

Dealers said the worry was that the plunges in the major
North Asian markets could spill over to Nasdaq which would
then set off another round of selling today.

"When you consider that most tech and Internet stocks have
run up on nothing more than a wing and a prayer, this kind
of fear of a domino effect is not irrational," said a
dealer.

In Japan, the Nikkei plunged 560.47 points or 2.8 per cent
to 19,189.93 with Internet stocks leading the way. The
Sankei-Bloomberg Net Index of Japanese online pioneers such
as Softbank Corp is down 34 per cent in the past three
weeks -- tumbling 9 per cent yesterday alone on earnings
concerns -- even as the Bloomberg US Internet Index rose 23
per cent.

Softbank, which rose more than 14-fold last year on
expectations of earnings growth from its portfolio of
Internet investments, dropped 5 per cent.  The company,
which has forecast a loss of almost 82 yen per share for
the fiscal year ending this month, has lost a third of its
value in just a week.

Sony Corp, which is repositioning itself as an online play
by linking its video games and household appliances to the
Internet, tumbled 7.6 per cent, completing a 25 per cent
slide in eight days. (Singapore Business Times  14-March-
2000)

MITSUBISHI MOTORS CORP.: Debt-ridden co. looks for partner
----------------------------------------------------------
A potential marriage between DaimlerChrysler AG and
Mitsubishi Motors Corp would likely differ greatly from
that of Renault and Nissan, with Mitsubishi retaining more
management say, analysts said on Monday.

Expectations that a deal is in the works were fuelled
further by Japanese media reports over the weekend that
Mitsubishi Motors was willing to let DaimlerChrysler take a
stake of 33.4 to 34 percent, giving it veto power. The
German-US auto giant is the world's sixth largest automaker
and Mitsubishi is Japan's fourth largest manufacturer of
full-sized cars. Together they would be the world's third
largest, producing 6.5 million vehicles annually.

DaimlerChrysler has declined to comment on the reports
while Mitsubishi Motors President Katsuhiko Kawasoe said on
Friday in Kuala Lumpur that the Japanese automaker was
talking to many companies on many matters but had no
particular partner in mind.  However, analysts say the
breadth of the reports made it likely talks were serious
and a deal could be in the offing if Mitsubishi was willing
to offer a 33.4 percent stake or more.

A deal would give DaimlerChrysler a much-needed base in
Asia as well as a partner to help it in its small car
development while Mitsubishi would gain relief from its
heavy debt load.  Mitsubishi Motors is, however, part of
the venerable Mitsubishi industrial group and at the end of
March 1999 the total of 28 Mitsubishi firms' holdings in
the automaker came to 48.3 percent, company data showed.

A deal would change this ratio and the Mitsubishi group
holding could fall substantially or even below
DaimlerChrysler's if all or most of a capital injection was
completed through new share issuance, said Howard Smith,
analyst at ING Baring Securities.  But even if this pans
out for DaimlerChrysler, analysts add that the Mitsubishi
group is likely to keep substantial influence in the
boardroom.

"DaimlerChrysler would have veto power and the final say
and thus huge influence, but Mitsubishi is likely to retain
some measure of independence," said Schroders Japan analyst
Koji Endo.

This would make a DaimlerChrysler-Mitsubishi deal very
different from Renault SA's takeover of Nissan Motor Co
last year in which it paid $5.4 billion for a 36.8 percent
stake.  By sending key executive "le cost-killer" Carlos
Ghosn in as chief operating officer, the French automaker
has full control while President Yoshikazu Hanawa and other
Japanese executives have faded deep into the background.

Analysts said that while debt-burdened Mitsubishi is in
desperate need of a partner for its passenger car division,
it has much less debt to pay in the next three years
compared with Nissan and would not need the same size of
capital injection. Although group heavyweights such as
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Corp have their
own financial woes and are likely encouraging a deal with
DaimlerChrysler, their continued board presence would boost
Mitsubishi's say. Nissan never had that clout.

Mitsubishi Heavy owns 26.97 percent of the automaker,
Mitsubishi Corp owns 8.41 percent and the Bank of Tokyo-
Mitsubishi, the strongest bank in Japan and its main bank,
has a 4.67 percent holding.  While some analysts were
optimistic that in the case of a deal, DaimlerChrysler and
Mitsubishi would be able to work out potential differences,
most were not ready to bet on smooth sailing.

"In the musical chair game of auto industry consolidation,
it seems DaimlerChrysler is grabbing Mitsubishi because its
the only seat in Asia left," said Takaki Nakanishi, auto
analyst at Merrill Lynch. "There's no sense that they have
thought out a business model yet."

Analysts point to a history of rocky relations between
Mitsubishi and Daimler. The two planned a comprehensive
business tie-up in the early 1990s but it came to nothing.
The jury is still out on the success of Daimler's merger
with Chrysler, with the two companies far from fully
integrated. Adding Mitsubishi to the mix could worsen
management headaches.

Mitsubishi Motor shares closed up 14 yen or 3.68 percent at
394 yen on Monday, which compares with levels around 330
yen before reports of a possible deal emerged a week ago.
(China Daily  14-March-2000)

TAISHO LIFE INS.CO.: More hurdles after Claremont deal
------------------------------------------------------
Taisho Life Insurance Co., long desperate to raise a
minimum of 3 billion yen by selling new shares to ride out
the current fiscal year, has hit the target, with Claremont
Capital Holding Inc. expressing an interest to buy a
controlling stake in the insurer.

After being ordered on Feb. 14 by the Financial Supervisory
Agency to bolster its capital base, Taisho Life had been
searching for buyers of its new shares. The insurer,
however, failed to find buyers before the Feb. 28 deadline
to present a credible management rehabilitation program.

Only three days after Taisho Life executives were first
sounded out about possible investment by Claremont on
Tuesday, they suddenly reached a breakthrough.  The insurer
is now negotiating with its business partners, asking them
to buy new shares worth more than 1 billion yen.

Taisho Life will now face an even more formidable task
shoring up its ailing insurance businesses, which pushed it
into the current turmoil in the first place. But it may not
be that easy for Claremont to market via its sales channels
mutual funds managed by one of Claremont's subsidiaries.
(Nikkei  14-March-2000)

TOKYO STEEL MFG.CO.: Expects to post annual loss
------------------------------------------------
Tokyo Steel Mfg Co (TSE:5423) said Friday it expects to
post a net loss of 13.5 billion yen (US$ 126 million) in
the current year through March 31, compared with a loss of
11.7 billion yen the previous year.

In October 1999, the company had projected a net loss of
7.5 billion yen.  Extraordinary losses will total 6 billion
yen, including 3.3 billion yen to cover shortfalls in
retirement allowance reserves. Previously, it only set
aside 40% of its retirement allowance needs into reserves,
but this will be raised to 100% from the current year. The
move comes ahead of new accounting standards to be
implemented in fiscal 2000.

"There will be no retirement reserve shortfalls under the
new accounting standards," said Yoshihiro Iketani, a
director.

The company expects an extraordinary loss of about 1
billion yen to book evaluation losses on stockholdings and
to set aside loan loss reserves for subsidiaries. Sales are
expected to decline 14%. Sales of steel bar products have
been sluggish. A fall in prices of steel products was
another negative factor.

The company expects to post 9 billion yen in operating
loss, due to a rise in scrap iron prices. Pretax loss is
seen at 7.5 billion yen, an improvement from the 8.3
billion yen loss in fiscal 1998.  (Asia Pulse  13-March-
2000)


=========
K O R E A
=========

KOREA HEAVY INDUS.AND CONSTR.: Chair responsible for loss
---------------------------------------------------------
Korea Heavy Industries and Construction (Hanjung) president
Yoon Young-suk is likely to be replaced in the future, with
Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy Kim Young-ho
telling reporters Monday that Yoon would be expected to
take full responsibility for management decisions resulting
in huge losses for the state-invested firm.

Hanjung took a W80-billion loss from its purchase of Daewoo
commercial papers following a liquidity crisis at the group
last last. Kim added that there are many ways Yoon would be
asked to take responsibility, saying that he would proceed
carefully in deciding Yoon's fate. Kim said, however, that
he would make a firm decision before Hanjung's annual
shareholders' meeting on March 27.

Yoon worked at Daewoo for more than 20 years and was
appointed chairman of the entire group in 1995. He has been
serving as the chair of Hunjung since 1998. (Digital Chosun
13-March-2000)

SAMSUNG MOTOR: Tough negotiating begins
---------------------------------------
French auto giant Renault SA kicked off a week of tough
bargaining here on Monday in a dispute with South Korean
banks over the selling price of failed Samsung Motors Inc.,
officials said.

The six Renault negotiators, who flew into Seoul from Paris
in the morning, had a warm-up session in Seoul with Samsung
Motors' creditors in the afternoon ahead of full talks,
main creditor Hanvit Bank said.

"Tough bargaining is expected," Ryu Han-Cho, a Hanvit Bank
executive and Seoul's chief negotiator, told AFP after
meeting with the French team led by Vice President Jean-
Marc Lepeu at a Samsung Motors office here.

Seoul's Yonhap News Agency earlier said that the French
delegation also included three others from Renault's
brokerage firms.  "Its too early to tell whether or not the
negotiations will produce any progress during the talks,"
Ryu said.

The bargaining with Renault would last for a week or so, he
said, adding the talks would likely get underway in earnest
on Tuesday.  At stake is the selling price of Samsung
Motors that went bankrupt after launching at the height of
the country's economic crisis in 1998.  An uphill battle
awaits Renault, which has proposed taking over Samsung
Motors for 450 million dollars, an offer rejected by local
creditors who have valued the auto company at more than a
billion dollars, officials said.

"We want to sell Samsung Motors at a reasonable price, not
a cheap one," another South Korean banker said on condition
of anonymity.

South Korean creidtors, including Hanvit, have also branded
Renault's proposed terms of payment as outrageous. Renault
proposed to immediately pay 50 million dollars in cash for
its takeover of Samsung Motors and the remainer of 400
million dollars later in the 10-percent ceiling of business
profits.

A Hanvit executive even warned last week that local
creditors might organise an international auction to sell
Samsung Motors to other firms if Renault did not better its
offer by the end of the month.  Renault was granted
exclusive negotiating rights for Samsung Motors for three
months from December 30.

The Hanvit official said other potential bidders, including
German auto parts company Sachsenring Automobiltechnik AG,
were being eyed for a possible auction, and urged Renault
to better its bid.  But auto analysts here said few other
foreign firms were queueing to buy Samsung Motors.

"In reality there is noone else really interested in
Samsung Motors and its the sort of firm that would be sold
for a symbolic dollar in the West," said an industry
source, adding however that the deal was still advancing.

Renault's acquisition of Samsung Motors would mark a
milestone in the opening up of South Korea's market, where
only some 2,500 of the 1.6 million cars sold annually are
foreign-made.  Samsung Motors, which went under court
receivership in July last year with debts of 4.3 trillion
won (3.78 billion dollars), has annual production capacity
of 240,000 units, derived from Japan's Nissan Motor Co.
Ltd. models.

Renault already owns a controlling stake in Nissan, which
supplies parts and technology to the South Korean firm.
(Agence France Presse   13-March-2000)


===============
M A L A Y S I A
===============

ADVANCE SYNERGY BHD: Annual loss expected
-----------------------------------------
Advance Synergy Bhd is expected to make a loss of about
RM2.3 million from the disposal of its 30 per cent stake or
72,000 shares of US$100 (US$1 = RM3.80) each in Gulf
Petroleum Co (Sudan) Ltd.

This represents a total loss per share of 68 sen for two
financial years 1999 and 2000.  In its response to a Kuala
Lumpur Stock Exchange query regarding the disposal by its
wholly-owned subsidiary, Synergy Petroleum Incorporated,
the group said it has entered into a sale and purchase
agreement (SPA) with Mr Salah Idris, a Sudanese
businessman, for the disposal of the block for US$8.2
million on May 2 1999.

Under the terms of the agreement, the purchaser was
required to make an initial non-refundable payment of
US$4.1 million in cash, representing 50 per cent of the
total consideration within 15 days from the date of the
SPA.  The remaining US$4.1 million was to be paid within
six months from the date of the agreement.

However, as agreed, if the purchaser defaults in the
payment of the remaining 50 per cent of the consideration,
the purchaser is deemed to have purchased only 15 per cent
of the equity in Gulf Petroleum comprising 36,000 shares.
The sale consideration, according to Advance Synergy, was
arrived at on a willing-buyer-willing-seller basis after
taking into consideration the net tangible assets of Gulf
Petroleum.

The principal activities of Gulf Petroleum are oil and gas
development and production. It has been awarded the rights
by the Government of Sudan to develop the Adar-Yale
oilfield in Block 3 of Melut Basin in Sudan.  The rights
awarded is under a Petroleum Production Sharing Agreement
(PPSA) dated August 17 1995. The PPSA for the development
and production of hydrocarbon is for aterm of 25 years with
an option to renew for an additional five years.

Advance Synergy said there were no liabilities assumed by
the purchaser arising from the disposal as Gulf Petroleum
shares were disposed free from all liens, charges and
encumbrances.  The group also said that the disposal did
not require its shareholders' approval.  The investment in
Gulf Petroleum was made in June 1996 and the total cost of
this investment amounted to US$8.8 million.

Gulf Petroleum has yet to start commercial operations and
the company's audited net tangible assets as at December 31
1997 were US$20.40 million.  Advanced Synergy also informed
the KLSE that in its opinion, the disposal of 30 per cent
stake in Gulf Petroleum is in the best interest of the
group.  The market capitalisation of the group based on the
weigthed average market price of 81 sen per stock unit for
the five market days prior to the date of the SPA was
RM273.61 million. (New Straits Times  13-March-2000)

RENONG: UEM to raise RM3.75b through listing of Plus
----------------------------------------------------
United Engineers Malaysia will undergo the complicated task
of listing its highway operator Plus to raise at least 3.75
billion Malaysian ringgit (S$1.7 billion) instead of
forcing Halim Saad to buy its Renong shares.

At the same time, parent Renong will sell its 12.25 per
cent stake in Commerce Asset Holding Bhd, an easier
exercise that could generate an exceptional gain of RM1
billion and increase its net tangible asset by 42 sen.

The proposed divestment is part of the group's plan to
raise funds to repay the RM8.4 billion owed to Plus, a
wholly-owned subsidiary of UEM. UEM managing director Ramli
Mohamad said: "Clearly it makes no sense for UEM to allow
the Plus bonds to run to full maturity in 2006 if we can
afford to reduce debt by repaying them earlier,
particularly as UEM and Renong will jointly owe a total of
RM16 billion if we allow interest accumulation to run over
the full seven-year term. It also locks up UEM's assets for
seven years and inhibits our potential for future growth."

Plus -- the owner of the tolled highway along Malaysia --
had issued the bonds last year to shave Renong's short-term
debts of RM5.4 billion and UEM's obligations of RM3
billion. The early redemption of the zero-coupon bonds with
a high yield of 9.4 per cent will boost their earnings due
to the substantial interest savings.

The groups have appointed Merrill Lynch (Singapore) to
advise them.   Dr Ramli said UEM has received the mandate
to divest up to 30 per cent of Plus. He said the sale of a
25 per cent stake in Plus could raise RM3.75 billion based
on its estimated value of RM15 billion.

But it won't be easy. First, the listing of Plus would
breach Malaysia's chain-listing rule as the subsidiary
contributes over 70 per cent to UEM's bottom line -- higher
than the cap of 50 per cent allowed. "We believe there's a
way and it can be done," said Dr Ramli.

Second, Plus needs the nod of its creditors before it can
go public.  But UEM did not feel the need to ask Renong
chieftain Halim Saad to fulfil his promise to buy the
Renong shares from UEM if Renong remained below RM3.24
between February this year and next February. Renong closed
at RM2.94 yesterday.

Dr Ramli expressed confidence that Renong's share price
would surpass UEM's cost of holding the shares. "The upward
movement is quite real. Why should we sell at RM3.24 when
we can sell it higher?" he said. (Singapore Business Times
14-March-2000)


=====================
P H I L I P P I N E S
=====================

NATIONAL POWER CORP.: Losses hit P4B in '99
-------------------------------------------
National Power Corp. last year posted total losses of P4
billion exceeding by about the previous year's P3.6
billion, preliminary figures of the power company showed.

For the first nine months of the year, Napocor losses
reached P3.1 billion.  Napocor president Federico Puno said
the agency's poor financial performance could be traced to
low electricity sales. He noted that Napocor's electricity
sale declined by an average of 3.1 percent a month from
January to September. The official said that every
percentage point decline in electricity sales would
translate to millions of pesos in losses for Napocor.

Puno said the agency was still finalizing its books . He
said revenues from other sources, including the one-day
power sale, have yet to be taken into account.  Puno said
the 7.9-centavo per kilowatt-hour increase in basic power
rates which took effect in July did not help in averting
further increases in the power agency's losses.

Interest expenses mainly on foreign currency-denominated
loans, he added, further dragged the power company's
financial performance last year.  As of September last
year, Napocor's electricity sales dropped to 27,205.7
gigawatt-hours from 28,078.6 gwh. The agency blamed the
economic slump that has brought down demand for Napocor's
declining sales.

Napocor's coffer was nearly drained in the first three
months of the year when its net loss reached P2.7 billion.
Last year, Napocor registered a net loss of P3.6 billion
primarily due to the peso devaluation that pushed up the
cost of servicing its loan obligations. (Philippine Daily
Inquirer  14-March-2000)

PILIPINO TEL.CORP.: SEC orders fine paid
----------------------------------------
Troubled cellular phone provider Pilipino Telephone Corp.
(Piltel) has been asked to pay a fine by the corporate
watchdog for its failure to put up a sinking fund necessary
to meet the redemption price of redeemable shares.

In a memorandum, the Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) ordered Piltel -- a cellular subsidiary of telecom
giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. -- to pay
10,000 Philippine pesos (US$200 at PhP40.859:US$1) in fines
for its inability to establish the sinking fund required
under SEC regulations. The commission's order followed the
complaint filed by Philippine Commercial Capital, Inc.
(PCCI) -- one of Piltel's institutional investors --
against the cellular phone company.

"We find it unfortunate that Piltel has, instead of meeting
the issue squarely, used the "trust fund doctrine" as a
device to escape from their legally mandated
responsibility. Worse yet, they have pointed the accusing
finger at the previous management for the failure to
establish the sinking fund," PCCI said.

Under the Commission's rules governing redeemable and
treasury shares, a sinking fund should be set up by a
corporation, "where cash is gradually set aside in order to
accumulate the amount necessary to meet the redemption
price of redeemable shares at special dates in the future."
(Business World  14-March-2000)


=================
S I N G A P O R E
=================

TONG TIEN SEE CONSTRUCTION: Placed under judicial mgmt.
-------------------------------------------------------
Nam Lee Pressed Metal Industries Ltd said one of its
customers, Tong Tien See Construction Pte Ltd, has been
placed under interim judicial management.

The company has on-site equipment worth about 3.8 mln sgd,
Nam Lee's managing director Yong Kin Sen said in a
statement.

"The amount that may have to be written off in the profit
and loss account will depend on the amount to be
recovered," Yong said, adding that a retention sum of about
1.58 mln sgd is due to the company from Tong Tien See.
"This retention sum has not been recorded as revenue and
will not have an impact on the current year profit," Yong
added.  (AFX News Limited  13-March-2000)

VENTURE MANUFACTURING: Leading tech stock falls 20 percent
----------------------------------------------------------
Venture Manufacturing shares plunged 20 per cent as
disappointed investors reacted to last Friday's
announcement of lower-than-expected 1999 net profit growth
of 31.3 per cent.

The stock closed $5.60 lower at $22.70 yesterday, the
second top loser on the exchange in dollar terms.

Venture's sharp fall was largely responsible for the
Singapore Electronics Equities Index's 19-point tumble to
223.72 yesterday. Of the 21 stocks on the index, 16 fell,
three rose, and two were unchanged. NatSteel Electronics
was the second biggest loser on the index, falling $1 to
$11.40. On the other hand, Creative Technology rose $1.50
to hit $54.

Analysts said technology stocks in Singapore and the region
were hit yesterday as concerns over stretched valuations on
US' tech-laden Nasdaq exchange filtered through the region.
Talk of analysts downgrading US Internet stocks, as well as
jitters over Taiwan's political situation, also dampened
sentiment in the sector.

Between Jan 3 and last Friday, Venture's shares had jumped
37 per cent on optimism over its results and its
acquisition strategy. Now investors were selling down the
shares to a more realistic level, said analysts, who had
expected Venture's 1999 results to rise 43.5 per cent.

While the company emphatically denied that last year's
component shortages had affected the company, it had
attributed its lower-than-expected results to product
changeovers in the second half. The company has signed up
several new customers in the communications space, and
analysts widely believe top networking company Cisco is one
of them.

While most analysts revised their 2000 estimates for the
stock and lowered their fair-value ranges to between $19
and $25, the company's globalisation and e-fulfillment
strategy won their thumbs-up.

The company's plan to invest $34 million to expand
capacity, as well as its stated desire to grow further
through acquisition, should also allow Venture to trade
above its fair value, said analysts, who expect the company
to continue to deliver steady earnings growth.

"To me, what happened with Venture in the second half is
not much of a worry," said RHB-Cathay analyst Edwin Goh,
who suggested that the company's margins may have been
affected by the lack of cheaper overseas production
facilities. "It's a thing of the past. I don't see it
happening this year." He has an "outperform" on the stock
and expects Venture's 2000 net profit to rise about 30 per
cent.

More bullish on the stock was Kim Eng Securities, which has
a fair value estimate of $32. "We are positive on its more
aggressive stance towards establishing a global footprint,"
it said in a report. "We think this would propel it to be a
truly global player. Any share price weakness due to the
earnings disappointment is seen as a good chance to
accumulate the stock." (Singapore Business Times  14-March-
2000)


===============
T H A I L A N D
===============

IRIDIUM SOUTHEAST ASIA: Operator closes down, demise near
---------------------------------------------------------
The local operator of the Iridium service has quietly shut
down, ahead of Friday's expected demise of the global
satellite communications project.

Iridium Southeast Asia announced an early-retirement
programme for its 200 staff with an offer of two to eight
months' compensation, said a source at Thai Satellite
Telecommunications (TSC), the parent company.  Most of the
staff accepted the package but about 60 remained with the
company, the source said.

In a letter to customers who had bought the costly Iridium
phones, Motorola said it would continue support for Iridium
until Friday, when the project's last-ditch financing runs
out.  Motorola was the primary backer of the $5-billion
Iridium project, which filed for US bankruptcy protection
last August.

"Unless a qualified buyer comes forward and provides
additional funding by March 15, we do not expect Iridium
service to be available after 11:59 pm on March 17,"
Motorola said.

If Iridium does not find fresh funds, it will start
dismantling its 66-satellite system, leaving subscribers
with useless phones.  Motorola said the units would not
work with other satellite telephone systems.

Locally,the president of Thai Satellite Telecommunications,
Piyabutra Vasudhara, quit the company quietly soon after
realising that Iridium appeared beyond salvaging. Iridium
Southeast Asia is a joint venture of Thai Satellite
Telecommunications, DDI of Japan and Kyocera Corp of Korea.
It held a 3.7% stake in the debt-ridden Iridium consortium.

Thai Satellite Telecommunications, a subsidiary of United
Communication Industry Plc Group, is among the 17 investors
worldwide in the Iridium project led by Motorola.  The
Thailand-based company is the gateway operator and service
provider for Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the
Pacific Islands.

Iridium, launched amid a major worldwide promotional blitz
in late 1998, struggled to sign up subscribers from the
start.  Critics said the phones, which cost as much as
120,000 baht, were too bulky and airtime charges were too
high.

Iridium said yesterday it had secured $3 million from its
lenders which would keep it afloat until Friday. Last week,
the prospect of a final liquidation drew nearer when
cellular communications pioneer Craig McCaw and his Eagle
River investment group scrapped a plan to buy Iridium.
Motorola set up a web site for information on Iridium
service at14-March-2000)

SAMITIVEJ PLC: Notifies SET of civil suit filed vs. it
------------------------------------------------------
By virtue of a writ of the Central Intellectual Property
and International Trade Court, Samitivej Public Company
Limited has been informed that the Sanwa Bank (by the
representative office, Bangkok) is filing the Civil case to
the Court on the allegation that the Samitivej was in
breach of the loan agreement. The case is the Black case
number Kor. Gor. 26/2543 between the Sanwa Bank (by the
representative office, Bangkok), the Plaintiffs, and the
Samitivej Public Company Limited, the Defendant.

The Plaintiffs claimed for compensation amounting to
87,969,102.23 baht. Samitivej, therefore, through Narongsak
Kiatikajornthada, M.D., President, hereby notifies the
Stock Exchange of Thailand of the threatening litigation,
pursuant to the provisions of the Stock Exchange of
Thailand.  (Thailand Stock Exchange  14-March-2000)

TELECOMASIA CORP.: Tells SET of closing shareholders book
---------------------------------------------------------
Telecomasia Corporation Public Company Limited, throught
Mr.Athueck Asvanund, Vice Chairman and Group General
Counsel, gives notification of the date of closing the
shareholders registration book.

Reference is made to the Extraordinary Meeting of
Shareholders No. 1/2543 of TelecomAsia Corporation Public
Company Limited ("the Company") held on February 14, 2000
which approved the financial restructuring plan.

As part of the plan, the Company agreed to increase its
registered capital by issuing Baht 702,000,000 preference
shares with a par value of 10 Baht each offering to
Kreditanstalt f?r Wiederaufbau("KfW") and/or wholly-owned
subsidiaries of KfW and/or the Thai Trust Fund, which will
be established for the Company's financial restructuring
plan, at the total offering price of USD 150 million.

KfW granted Purchase Rights to all shareholders of the
Company who own at least 4 ordinary shares in the Company
and whose names appear in the Companys on the Record Date,
details as notified therein.

In order to ascertain number of preference shares offering
to KfW and/or wholly owned subsidiaries of KfW and/or the
Thai Trust Fund and to determine the names of shareholders
who will be eligible to receive the Purchase Rights given
by KfW as mentioned above, the Company has to close the
Shareholders Registration Book to ascertain the number of
the Company's shares held by foreign and Thai Shareholders
and to ascertain the names of shareholders who will be
eligible to receive the Purchase Rights given by KfW.

Hence, the Company would like to notify the closing date of
Shareholders Registration Book on March 24, 2000 from 12.00
noon onwards until on March 31, 2000 for the aforesaid
specification to all shareholders of the Company who own at
least 4 ordinary shares during the said period of Closing
Shareholders

Registration Book will be eligible to receive the Purchase
Rights granted by KfW. However, the subscription of KfW
and/or wholly owned subsidiaries of KfW and/or the Thai
Trust Fund including the said Purchase Rights given by KfW
will commence upon the consummation of all of conditions
precedent as provided in the Subscription Agreement between
KfW and the Company including the complete and final Terms
and Material Information of Purchase Rights.   (Stock
Exchange of Thailand  13-March-2000)

THAI PETROCHEMICAL INDUSTRY PLC: Losing PR battle?
--------------------------------------------------
A series of public-relations blitzes by Thai Petrochemical
Industry Plc (TPI) since last week indicates that the
country's largest debtor may be losing the war in the
court.

A legal source said Prachai Leopairatana, the chief
executive officer of TPI, held a meeting with his family
members last week and told them to prepare for the
possibility that TPI could lose its court battle against
creditor banks.

Early last week, Prachai was still confident about the
outcome of the historic bankruptcy case, the source said.
The Central Bankruptcy Court is deliberating whether TPI,
which owes creditors US$3.5 billion, is insolvent or not.
So confident about the case was Prachai that he did not
present himself at a witness hearing on March 1-2, allowing
Wachirapunthu Phromprasert, his chief financial officer,
and other aides to deliver most of the testimonies, the
source added.

If the creditors wanted a compromise, they would have to
agree with Prachai on a US$900 million debt forgiveness or
haircut - not US$400-US$600 million as earlier raised at
the negotiating table.  But events changed quickly, forcing
TPI to come out with a desperate defensive strategy. On
March 8, the company sent a letter to the Stock Exchange of
Thailand to inform the investing public about the latest
progress in the legal battle.

It also appealed to nationalist sentiment, arguing that the
benefits of the country were at stake if TPI were to be
taken over by the foreign creditors who were keen to chop
its assets into pieces for liquidation.  The following day,
Wachirapunthu held a news conference to discredit Ferrier
Hodgson Ltd, which is the 99 per cent shareholder of
Affective Planner Co. Affective Planner is earmarked by
Bangkok Bank to replace Prachai as planner of TPI's
rehabilitation programme.

Again, Prachai avoided the public limelight, failing to
show up at the news conference to present his side of the
story.  These incidents have been seen as an indication
that Prachai would try to remain planner of TPI even though
he realised he could lose the court battle over the
question of insolvency.

The Central Bankruptcy Court is scheduled to hand down its
decision tomorrow as to whether or not TPI is insolvent. It
is also expected to decide who should become planner of the
troubled company.  The case has become one of the hottest
topics in Thailand, with far-reaching implications on
corporate restructuring. Since the beginning of the year,
sentiment in the Thai market has cooled significantly due
to the wrangling over TPI.

Prasarn Trairatvorakul, secretary-general of the Securities
and Exchange Commission, said investors were closely
watching the TPI case because the ruling would affect the
60 debt-restructuring cases involving listed companies.
At issue is whether TPI is insolvent or not. The creditors
contend that its liabilities exceed its assets.

According to a Standard Chartered Bank research report:
"This comes down to an issue of valuation method. TPI
values its assets on a replacement cost basis which results
in the company still being solvent - despite market rates
of exchange being much worse than used in the current
balance sheet.

"Meanwhile, creditors look at the business as a going
concern. Thus their methodology focuses on an analysis of
the company's likely cash-flow stream and the ensuing asset
disposal. Therefore, a key feature of the TPI case will be
the method by which the bankruptcy court values the
company's assets, replacement cost, supporting TPI, or cash
flow and asset disposal, for the creditors." (The Nation
14-March-2000)

THAI PETROCHEM.INDUS.: Bad loans, little improvement
----------------------------------------------------
About 2,280 borrowers representing nearly one-quarter of
the total outstanding loans held by financial institutions
are expected to enter bankruptcy proceedings, after failing
to reach out-of-court settlement, according to the Bank of
Thailand.

The latest non-performing loan figures showed little
improvement, with bad loans totalling 2.08 trillion baht at
the end of January, or 38.68% of total loans, compared with
2.09 trillion and 38.91% the month before.  Lt Yodchai
Chusri, director of the Corporate Debt Restructuring
Advisory Committee, said less than 1% of the total
restructured loans had turned non-performing again.

Out of 702 major borrowers targeted by CDRAC, 362 cases,
involving loans of 672 billion baht, will be brought into
court procedures, he said.  Out of 1,057 small-sized loans,
729 borrowers with total debts of 300 billion baht would
enter legal procedures.

"A substantial amount of loans will enter the judicial
process. For borrowers which refuse to co-operate, CDRAC
urges financial institutions to protect their rights and
seek legal remedies," Lt Yodchai said.

The central bank expects 81 major restructuring cases to be
finalised in April. The central bank has set a target of
16,000 restructuring cases per month.  The average to date
has been 12,000 cases per month, Lt Yodchai said. Finance
Minister Tarrin Nimmanahaeminda said loans totalling 50
billion baht were restructured in January, although non-
performing loans showed a drop of just seven billion.

He said the difference stemmed partly from different timing
when new loan contracts were signed and finalised. Economic
ministers yesterday directed the Bank of Thailand to study
further the rate of new bad loans and restructured loans
which turned bad again.

Altogether, 11,107 borrowers had their loans restructured
in January, bringing the total to date to 184,816 cases
with loans worth 1.126 trillion baht. At the end of
January, loans totalling 1.137 trillion baht were being
restructured, involving 26,273 borrowers.

Some 843 borrowers were in the process of drafting new
contracts, with loans worth 452.5 billion baht. Another
batch of loans worth 147.2 billion baht was being resolved
in the courts.  Total non-performing loans stood at 2.08
trillion baht in January, or 38.68% of total outstanding
loans, compared with 2.09 trillion or 38.91% in December.

Private banks reported non-performing loans of 885.6
billion baht at the end of January, or 30.67% of total
loans, compared with 885.4 billion and 30.59% posted in
December.  State banks reported bad loans of 1.04 trillion
baht, or 62.18%, in January, versus 1.05 trillion and
62.87% in December.  Foreign banks reported bad loans of 60
billion baht in January, or 9.33% of total loans, compared
with 61 billion and 9.81% in December.

Non-performing loans for the banking sector stood at 1.99
trillion baht, or 38.21%, in January, compared with two
trillion or 38.55% in December.  Finance companies reported
bad loans of 95 billion baht in December, or 52.15% of
total loans, compared with 90.1 billion, or 49.21%, in
December.

Investors reacted poorly to the latest figures, with the
Stock Exchange of Thailand index losing 12.15 points
yesterday to close at 390.15.  Trade was relatively thin at
4.6 billion baht. Analysts said many investors were
sidelined ahead of tomorrow's verdict on the Thai
Petrochemicals Industry restructuring case, viewed as an
acid test of bankruptcy laws. (Bangkok Post  14-March-2000)


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

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

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                 *** End of Transmission ***