TCRAP_Public/000413.MBX      T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

                             A S I A   P A C I F I C

             Thursday, April 13, 2000, Vol. 3, No. 73


* A U S T R A L I A *

LEND LEASE: Stock plummets, facing annual loss
VIDEO EZY: Facing $10M in fines over GST claims

* C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G *

PETRO CHINA CO.: Plans layoffs after IPO
SYSCAN TECHNOLOGY HLDGS.: Loss-maker expecting turnaround

* I N D O N E S I A *

PT A.LATIEF CORP.: IBRA insists ad hoc judges be used
PT ASTRA SEDAYA FINANCE: To issue bonds to re-fi debt
PT NEWMONT MINAHASA RAYA: Court closes mine on tax dispute
PT NEWMONT MINAHASA RAYA: Mine closure dampening investment
PT OMETRACO CORP.: IBRA insists ad hoc judges be used
PT SEKAR LAUT TBK: Debt restructuring progress to JSX
PT SUMI ASIH: IBRA insists ad hoc judges be used

* J A P A N *

ITOCHU CORP.: Top execs to go unsalaried for months
KAINOS LABORATORIES: Expects 80M Yen net loss for FY99
KITZ CORP.: Forecasts 200M Yen net loss for FY99
MITSUBISHI CORP.: To post first-ever net loss
NISSAN MOTOR: To sell empty showrooms
SODICK PLASTECH CO.: Parent injects 2.1B Yen into it
VERTEX LINK CORP.: Forecasts 260M Yen loss in FY99

* K O R E A *

DAEWOO ELECTRONICS: Courts declare Annual Meeting invalid
DAEWOO MOTOR: Strike could cause W1T in delayed production
HYUNDAI MOTOR: Strike could cause W1T in delayed production
KIA MOTORS: Strike could cause W1T in delayed production

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

BELLE CORP.: Sy seen accumulating shares
NATIONAL STEEL CORP.: Must submit rehab plan by April 17
PHILIPPINE NAT.BANK: Hong Kong group wants to join May sale
PHILIPPINE VETERANS BANK: GSIS probes surety bond deal
WESTMONT INVEST.CORP.: Task force to be formed for probe

* T H A I L A N D *

BANGKOK EXPRESSWAY PLC.: Plans debentures to re-fi debt
DBS THAI DANU BANK: Completes staff cutback plan
KRUNG THAI BANK: Former president in fraud bust


The Board of ASX-listed investment company, The Five Arrows
Australia Fund Limited (FAAFL), believes the legislated
changes to the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) regime, is
recommended by the Ralph Report, has had a detrimental
impact on the tax effectiveness of FAAFL.  Based on tax
advice, the Board has formed the view that an investment
in FAAFL is not an attractive method for investors, to
access the Australian sharemarket.

Consequently, the Board of FAAFL has resolved to convene a
General Meeting of shareholders to vote on a special
resolution to place FAAFL into members' voluntary

"The Board believes that given the adverse circumstances
currently facing the Company, shareholders should be
offered an opportunity to decide the Company's future,"
said the Chairman of FAAFL, Mr Peter Griffin.

Like many other listed investment companies, FAAFL's share
price is trading at a significant discount to its net
tangible asset backing.  "Under the present environment the
Board believes that this discount is unlikely to narrow in
the foreseeable future. Accordingly, the Board believes
that many shareholders might prefer to liquidate the
Company and realise the Company's net tangible asset
backing," Mr Griffin said.

He added that "Each shareholder will need to consider the
resolution to wind-up in the light of the shareholder's
personal financial circumstances and tax position. The
directors recommend that shareholders take advantage of the
opportunity to vote on this important matter."

Shareholders will vote on the special resolution at a
General Meeting to be held on 16 May 2000.  (Australia
Stock Exchange  12-April-2000)

LEND LEASE: Stock plummets, facing annual loss
National Australia Bank again found favour with investors
yesterday after its $4.56 billion purchase of MLC, but the
market took a dimmer view of Lend Lease's prospects.

Lend Lease chairman Stuart Hornery yesterday appealed to
the market for patience as shares sank 67c to $19.12,
taking losses for the two days since the deal was announced
to $1.38, or 6.6 per cent.

"There will be some uncertainty for some time," Mr Hornery
said. "But I believe we have earned the opportunity to show
what we can do. I can understand the market's concern but
equally the market has to understand that deal was an
extremely good one for shareholders."

By contrast, NAB shares closed 81c higher at $23.98 each.
Mr Cicutto said yesterday's market response to the MLC
purchase vindicated the bank's strategy despite claims the
bank had paid too much.  "It is testimony to the quality of
the transaction, it (MLC) is a fantastic organisation," he

Bank analysts were divided on whether NAB shares climbed
because the MLC deal was good in itself, or through
investor relief that NAB was not planning a bigger and
messier takeover.  Mr Cicutto said the critics had
"forgotten" the bank had also acquired a life insurance
business along with the $30 billion of funds under
management. "We have also bought a strong forward cash flow
out of the life business. We have paid for a top industry

Certainly, Lend Lease investors were counting the cost of
losing the $200 million profit stream generated by MLC.
The loss of the MLC income could end a record of 24
consecutive years profit growth for Lend Lease for at least
a year until the global property services strategy picks up
the slack.

"The market is having trouble coming to terms with the new
risk profile of the company," one Lend Lease analyst said.

MLC represented 40 per cent of Lend Lease's 1999 net profit
of $420 million and was highly valued by investors because
of its reliability.  In its new guise as a global, purely
property services, group, 60 per cent of the group revenue
would be of the annuity style generated by MLC, with the
rest in more volatile development profits, Lend Lease says.

Meanwhile, NAB chief executive Frank Cicutto yesterday gave
his strongest indication the bank was willing to sell its
US arm, Michigan National, which could be worth as much as
$7 billion.

"Now that we have consummated this acquisition in Australia
(MLC), this allows more time to actively participate in the
consolidation of the northern hemisphere market," Mr
Cicutto said.  "Certainly, we can't stay as we are (in the
US). The markets are changing and we need to either invest
in those markets or take other options."

He said there were "great opportunities" in the US market,
"not necessarily branch-based distribution either".

Mr Hornery said acquisitions of US commercial mortgage
processor AmResCo, Boston Financial Group and Equitable
Real Estate would add $150 million a year to net profits.
After returning $1.5 billion to shareholders and paying
back debt, Lend Lease will have up to $1.5 billion in cash
to spend on acquisitions. (The Courier Mail  12-April-2000)

VIDEO EZY: Facing $10M in fines over GST claims
Australia's biggest video chain, Video Ezy, faces fines of
up to $10 million for allegedly increasing the price of
new-release videos ahead of the GST.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been
investigating the video giant, which commands 30 per cent
of the market, since January after complaints that its
staff had attributed price rises to the GST.

"The ACCC has concluded that Video Ezy unlawfully sought to
anticipate the GST in its prices, even though the tax is
not due until 1 July 2000," the commission chairman,
Professor Allan Fels, said.

At issue is the rise in price of new release videos from $6
to $7, a rise of 15 per cent that exceeds the GST impost.
According to the commission, Video Ezy staff "typically"
told customers that "the price rise is to introduce the GST
now so that people get used to the idea of paying more. It
won't be such a shock when the GST comes in."

Customers from Queensland, NSW and Victoria all complained
to the commission's price exploitation hotline about the
increase.  The action is against Video Ezy Australasia, the
corporate entity which runs some stores and oversees the
franchising of others. No franchise outlet has been
charged, although some remain under investigation.

The notice of price exploitation - the first issued by the
commission - will be used as the basis for any court
action. If found guilty of price exploitation, Video Ezy
faces fines of $10 million and its executives fines of up
to $500,000.  There was no commitment from the commission
to take it to court, however. And it is not investigating
other video stores, even though many now charge $7 for the
overnight hire of new-release videos.

"The ACCC will be seeking suitable remedies for the
situation. This may include a rollback of prices,
compensatory free video rentals, apologies and/or
penalties," Professor Fels said.

Video Ezy yesterday rejected the allegations. Its managing
director, Mr Robert Maidment, said the price increases
reflected the company's investment in large quantities of
new-release videos and the expense of store refurbishments.

He said Video Ezy's competitors had lifted the price of
videos to $7 as early as 1996, consistent with the
recommended retail price of major distributors.  Video
Ezy's woes - saluted as evidence of the Government's
vigilance on behalf of consumers - deflected attention from
the Government's continuing problems with the new tax
system yesterday.

The Prime Minister, Mr Howard, had difficulty explaining
why the Government's top-up payment to families that prove
they suffered financially under the GST would only be
available until September 30. He said the "transitional"
arrangements would be further explained by the Minister for
Family and Community Services, Senator Newman, at a later

The Government also was unable to refute Labor claims that
about 2,000 postgraduate students receiving scholarships
from benevolent institutions would be losers because they
would get no extra compensation to pay for the GST.
There were further allegations that staff were leaving the
Tax Office in droves for higher paid jobs in the private
sector, leaving the implementation of the biggest tax
change ever in doubt. The ATO said its GST recruitment
program was on target. (Sydney Morning Herald  12-April-

C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G

PETRO CHINA CO.: Plans layoffs after IPO
PetroChina Co will cut 7,000 jobs this year to satisfy
investors in its new multibillion-dollar foreign stock
issue, a company official said yesterday.

The company had cut one million jobs in preparation for the
public offering that raised almost US$3.1 billion (S$5.3
billion) last week in Hongkong and New York. But investors
complained the remaining 480,000-member workforce was still
too big, said the official.

The company agreed to cut jobs gradually, beginning by
eliminating between 5,000 and 7,000 positions this year,
the official said. (Business Times  12-April-2000)

SYSCAN TECHNOLOGY HLDGS.: Loss-maker expecting turnaround
Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) listing candidate Syscan
Technology Holdings expects strong sales growth this year
following the launch of a new portable scanner.

The imaging-products developer and manufacturer saw sales
fall 5.1 per cent to HK$6.02 million last year, while its
net loss widened from HK$30.49 million to HK$38.84 million.
Syscan has not recorded a profit since it was founded in
1995, and has accumulated losses of HK$125.2 million.

It attributed the losses to rising research and development
expenditure to produce a new technology called the CMOS
image module.  It claimed the module would help
manufacturers of scanners and fax machines to cut their
production costs by between 20 and 50 per cent.

"We are expecting sales to grow by several-fold this year,"
chief financial officer Gordon Wong said.

First-quarter sales had already exceeded those for the
whole of last year, he said.  Tim Fu Ting-mei, deputy
managing director of listing sponsor BNP Prime Peregrine,
said the offer of 152 million new shares to institutional
investors had been over-subscribed.  The subscription price
of HK$1.33 was close to the high end of the indicative
price range of HK$1.18 to HK$1.38.  (South China Morning
Post  12-April-2000)


B Grimm Engineering Systems explained that last year's
negative equity of Bt14.67 million came mainly from
excessive provision for expenses for that period and
provision for bad debt which become collectible in the next
period. (The Nation  12-April-2000)

PT A.LATIEF CORP.: IBRA insists ad hoc judges be used
PT OMETRACO CORP.: IBRA insists ad hoc judges be used
PT SUMI ASIH: IBRA insists ad hoc judges be used
Legal affairs chief of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring
Agency (IBRA) Agustus Sani Nugroho stressed on Tuesday that
the agency still wanted independent ad hoc judges to
examine its bankruptcy cases despite "resistance" from head
of the Jakarta Commercial Court.

IBRA is filing a bankruptcy petition against three of its
uncooperative debtors including trading firm PT ALatief
Corporation which owes the agency some US$16.93 million in
bad debts, crude palm oil processor PT Sumi Asih (Rp 73.94
billion and $16.73 million), and diversified PT Ometraco
Corporation ($53.18 million). IBRA has lost earlier
bankruptcy cases.

Agustus said that the agency was exercising the opportunity
provided by the 1998 law on bankruptcy which allowed IBRA
to request ad hoc judges for all cases filed in the
Commercial Court or bankruptcy court.

"This is a straightforward thing. Why should we make it
difficult... Our credibility in the eyes of investors is at
stake," he told a small group of journalists.

Agustus was responding to a rejection made by head of the
bankruptcy court, Sihol Sitoempul, against IBRA's request
to assign ad hoc judges to examine three bankruptcy cases.
Sihol said last week that none of the four ad hoc judges
appointed through a presidential decree last year could
examine IBRA's cases because the judges had yet to take the
oath of office before the Commercial Court.

He said that the ad hoc judges declined to take the oath
until the court agreed to allow a "dissenting opinion" to
be recorded on the last page of a verdict document to
notify when a verdict was reached after a split decision.

Agustus agreed that the dissenting opinion be disclosed to
the public so that people would know the decision made by
the ad hoc judges and regular judges.  "Let it be
transparent," he said.

But Sihol maintained that under normal procedure, a
dissenting opinion must be kept confidential in court
records and how a verdict is reached should not be
disclosed as it might create further arguments and

Agustus warned that the government must solve this problem
quickly as transparency and legal certainty are crucial to
the country's economic recovery.  He also pointed out that
the assignment of ad hoc judges to examine IBRA's
bankruptcy cases was part of the letter of intent agreed by
the government and the IMF in January.

Meanwhile, IMF consultant Gregory Churchill said on Tuesday
that if existing ad hoc judges declined to take the oath,
the government must immediately appoint new ad hoc judges.
He said that the idea of disclosing a dissenting opinion
was very positive, but it could not be accommodated by the
existing law.  (The Jakarta Post  12-April-2000)

PT ASTRA SEDAYA FINANCE: To issue bonds to re-fi debt
PT Astra Sedaya Finance, a joint venture finance company
run by PT Astra International and GE Capital, said it plans
to raise as much as 500 billion rupiah (S$112.5 million) by
selling bonds in July.

Nini Tjandrasa, Astra Sedaya treasury executive in charge
of the issue, declined to provide any further details.
Astra Sedaya, which makes car loans, earned 61.9 billion
rupiah for the first six months of last year, double what
it earned in the period the year before, 31.1 billion

Many Indonesian companies are turning to the bond market as
bank credit lines have dried up. PT Pabrik Kertas Tjiwi
Kimia and PT Lontar Papyrus, companies in Sinar Mas' Asia
Pulp and Paper group, have announced plans to sell one
trillion rupiah worth of bonds next month, to refinance
older debt. (Business Times  12-April-2000)

PT NEWMONT MINAHASA RAYA: Court closes mine on tax dispute
The closure of a United States-operated gold mine by an
Indonesian court is a serious blow to the country's mining
industry, and to its already battered image as a place to

On Monday, Newmont Minahasa Raya, a subsidiary of Denver-
based Newmont Mining, said a local court ordered it to
close its mine in North Sulawesi following a tax dispute
with the local government.

There is concern the closure would spark "autonomy
euphoria" in other resource-rich regions which have long
complained the central government sapped their mineral
wealth.  The episode has also raised fresh questions about
the Indonesian judicial system's treatment of companies.

"It truly is a disincentive for potential investors. What
has happened to Newmont could happen to other companies,
not only in mining but other sectors," Indonesian Mining
Association executive director Paul Louis Courtier, said.

The Tondano District Court in North Sulawesi issued an
order for the closure of the mine by April 16.  The order
relates to the Minahasa regency's attempts to impose taxes
on various minerals recovered by the company. The company
has argued these minerals were part of the over-burden it
needed to remove to get to the gold below.

The regency last year filed a suit against the company,
after it refused to pay the taxes, which, according to the
company, were outside its contract of work signed with the
central government in 1986.  In January, the Tondano
District Court ordered Newmont to shut the mine. Newmont
appealed, but on March 6 the provincial high court in
Manado confirmed the decision, allowing the Tondano court
to issue the closure order.

Concerns have also been raised about the court process, in
which the judge refused to hear expert witnesses from
Newmont.  Indonesia's legal system is already under
widespread attack, accused of rampant corruption and

"The problem is technical. How can the judge who knows only
a little about mining industry take a decision on such
technical problems?" Mr Courtier asked.  "It is good to
settle disputes in court but if the court performed like
that, no one would trust our courts again."

Indonesia's national government has been fighting an uphill
battle to win back foreign investors' confidence after it
was hit hard by the 1997 economic crisis and the political
turmoil which followed.  Mr Courtier says the verdict
against Newmont underlines the dangers that can result from
new laws to give regions greater autonomy over their

They were passed by former president B.J. Habibie as
concerns mounted about separatist pressures in several
resource-rich provinces.  Mr Courtier said future mining
investors would shy away from Indonesia if present mining
contracts were subjected to provincial regulations. (South
China Morning Post  12-April-2000)

PT NEWMONT MINAHASA RAYA: Mine closure dampening investment
The ruling by a local court in North Sulawesi ordering gold
mining company PT Newmont Minahasa Raya to shut down its
operations could undermine the government's efforts to
attract foreign investors and might harm the government
financially, an official said.

The director of mining development at the Ministry of Mines
and Energy, Simon Sembiring, said on Tuesday Newmont might
appeal the ruling.  If the company wins its appeal, it
could demand compensation from the government for losses
incurred by the closure of its gold mine, he said.

"In the end, this (forced closure of the gold mine) could
harm the government," he said.

Simon said the government would support Newmont's appeal of
the court's ruling.  Newmont was ordered by the Tondano
District Court to close down its mine in Ratatotok village,
Minahasa regency, by next Sunday.  The Minahasa regency
filed a lawsuit against Newmont at the district court last
year, demanding a total of Rp 61.5 billion in overdue taxes
and compensation.

At the regency's request, the court issued a provisional
ruling closing down Newmont's mine while the court hears
the suit against the company.  "We regret this decision
because the case is still in progress," Simon said.

He said Newmont's alleged nonpayment of taxes was
insufficient grounds for the regency to demand the closure
of the gold mine.  Newmont has already promised its assets,
which are worth far more than the amount of taxes and
compensation demanded by the regency, as a guarantee it
will comply with any decision taken by the court, he said.

"If it had been for environmental reasons, the mine closure
would have made sense," Simon was quoted as saying by
Antara news agency.

The Mining Advocate Network (JATAM), however, demanded the
permanent closure of Newmont's mine on the grounds of
environmental destruction.  JATAM cited an unpublished
study by an audit team, including governmental officials
and experts, stating that Newmont had polluted the nearby
Buyat Gulf with its tailings.

The Indonesian Mining Association (IMA), meanwhile, said
the closure of Newmont's mine might have resulted from a
misunderstanding of mining operations on the part of the
judge.  The association said the regency believed the
company had to pay taxes on all extracted overburden. But
Newmont refused to pay, saying the overburden was not
taxable since it was simply extracted to access the gold
ore underneath, and only a small portion of the overburden
was used to make aggregates for construction needs.

IMA said the judge in Tondano needed experts to explain
these technical points to him, but the judge did not allow
the expert witnesses presented by Newmont to testify during
the hearing.  The experts were a mining professor from the
prestigious Bandung Institute of Technology and a former
director general of mining.

The company expects the gold deposit at the mine to be
depleted by 2001. It estimated gold production would reach
350,000 ounces this year, up from 344,000 ounces in 1999.
Newmont Minahasa Raya is 80 percent owned by the Denver-
based Newmont Mining Corporation, with the remaining 20
percent held by Tanjung Sarapung, which is owned by local
businessman Yusuf Merukh. (Jakarta Post  12-April-2000)

PT SEKAR LAUT TBK: Debt restructuring progress to JSX
PT Sekar Laut TBK has reported its progress of business and
debt restructuring to the Jakarta Stock Exchange. In the
hearing on 22 March 2000, it said, the company had achieved
a debt settlement concept with its creditor majority.
Planned that in the near time to sign the restructuring
termsheet. With the restructuring approval, the auditor
party hoped could give the opinion to the company's
financial statement. (Jakarta Stock Exchange  12-April-


ITOCHU CORP.: Top execs to go unsalaried for months
Itochu Corp. (8001) said Monday Chairman Minoru Murofushi
and President Uichiro Niwa will from July receive no
financial compensation for months to take responsibility
for an expected second straight year in which the firm has
failed to pay a dividend. Murofushi will also be denied
representative authority.

The major trading house has already canceled bonuses for
directors, including the chairman and president, since
January 1998, and has halved Niwa's monthly salary since
last July.  The company forecasts a parent-only net loss of
173 billion yen in fiscal 1999.

Itochu aims to resume dividend payment from the current
fiscal year. If the firm achieves its profit goal for the
first half through June, it will restart remuneration
payments to Murofushi and Niwa.  An inquiry by an in-house
task force launched last autumn found that the firm's huge
losses can be traced to problems with management, risk
control and corporate culture.

The company plans to prevent a repeat of the same mistakes
by scrutinizing the risk and return on investment plans,
setting up an advisory board comprising outside
specialists, publishing group business results quarterly as
well as shrinking its board of directors. (Nikkei  11-

KAINOS LABORATORIES: Expects 80M Yen net loss for FY99
Kainos Laboratories Inc. (4556), a manufacturer of drugs
for clinical tests, expects net losses of 80 million yen
for the fiscal year ended March 31, down from 24 million
yen in net profit the year before.

The firm sank deeper into the red than its initial estimate
of a 15 million yen net loss because the liquidation of a
U.S. joint venture is taking longer than expected, and
therefore Kainos will not receive an 83 million yen tax
benefit it had expected under deferred tax accounting,
resulting in a higher tax burden in fiscal 1999.

Pretax profit is projected at 252 million yen, up 21% on
the year, thanks to a 50 million yen cost cut realized by
holding down capital spending and R&D costs.  Sales are
projected to decline 4% to 5.46 billion yen due to weak
sales of allergy drugs. In addition, sales of new products
were partially pushed back to the current fiscal year.
(Nikkei  11-April-2000)

KITZ CORP.: Forecasts 200M Yen net loss for FY99
Kitz Corp. (6498) estimates a consolidated net loss of 200
million yen in the year ended March. The leading producer
of valves predicted 500 million yen in net profit. Kitz
posted 3.3 billion yen in net loss in fiscal 1998.

Anticipating a shift to booking assets based on market
value in fiscal 2000, Kitz recorded 900 billion yen in
extraordinary loss, mainly due to appraisal loss on golf
course memberships and stock revaluation under the LCM
(lower of cost or market) accounting method.

Consolidated sales apparently slipped 8% to 67.5 billion
yen. Exports to overseas petroleum plants were sluggish and
sales of valves on a parent-only domestic basis decreased
as capital investment slumped.  Fixed costs decreased
thanks to the firm's restructuring efforts the previous
year, leading to a 40% increase in group operating profit
to 3.6 billion yen.

For the year started April 1, Kitz projects an increase in
sales due to recovery in domestic capital investment and
improvement in sales on a parent-only basis as the unit
price of valves is expected to halt its decline.
Consolidated sales are projected at 69.5 billion yen, up

Consolidated net profit is expected to be 2 billion yen as
amortization of a yearly 700 million yen paid for the
goodwill of a valve cock manufacturer purchased by Kitz in
1995 was completed in fiscal 1999, and no extraordinary
loss is expected. (Nikkei  11-April-2000)

MITSUBISHI CORP.: To post first-ever net loss
Mitsubishi Corp. (8058) apparently suffered its first ever
parent-only net loss (apart from during the chaos
immediately following World War II) in the year ended March
31. The trading house giant has revised its earnings
predictions downward and is set to report a 16 billion yen
net loss compared to an 11.5 billion yen net profit
recorded in fiscal 1998.

The firm booked 140 billion yen in extraordinary loss in
fiscal 1999, of which some 65 billion yen was related to
early retirement incentive payments as part of the
company's restructuring. The rest came from money spent to
cover a shortage in reserves for retirement and severance
obligations and due to withdrawal from money-losing

The trading house did manage to see a 20% increase in
pretax profit to about 77 billion yen and even booked about
20 billion yen in extraordinary profit, but these were
insufficient to offset the extraordinary loss.

"We decided to cover future payments for retirement,
severance and other obligations in order to get the losses
over with," said Vice President Koji Furukawa.

On a consolidated basis, Mitsubishi also estimates it will
post about the same amount in extraordinary loss and that
its net profit will plunge 76% to 6 billion yen. Mitsui &
Co. (8031) has also revised downward its forecast,
apparently managing a parent-only net profit of about 5
billion yen, down 70%, but only after recording an
extraordinary loss of 43 billion yen to partially cover a
shortage in its retirement and severance pay reserves.

The trading house estimates pretax profit at about 60
billion yen, a slight increase. Group net profit is pegged
at 35 billion yen, a jump of 17%. Marubeni Corp. (8002),
another major trading house to revise downward earlier
profit projections, estimates parent-only net profit at 6
billion yen, compared to a 20 billion yen loss in fiscal
1998. Some 120 billion yen in extraordinary loss will be
booked, mainly from dissolution of affiliates and
revaluation loss on properties bought for resale.

Marubeni will forego a dividend payout for the first time
in 47 years, despite 60 billion yen in extraordinary profit
from asset sales.  Mitsubishi and Mitsui will maintain a
dividend payout of 8 yen per share. (Nikkei  11-April-2000)

NISSAN MOTOR: To sell empty showrooms
Nissan Motor, the Japanese carmaker which is 36.8 per cent
owned by Renault, is considering selling vacant properties
in blocks.

The scheme, unprecedented in the Japanese car industry,
would involve selling groups of domestic showroom
properties closed under Nissan's restructuring plan
unveiled last October.  Thierry Moulonguet, chief financial
officer, said that the idea had already attracted investor

"A lot of investors, both Japanese and foreign, are looking
at the [property] market and saying that now is a good
opportunity to come and build a retail base in Japan," he

As part of the restructuring, Carlos Ghosn, Nissan chief
operating officer, promised to close 10 per cent of
showrooms and 20 per cent of sales affiliates by 2002.
Last week, Mr Moulonguet said that Nissan had already shut
more than 100 dealership outlets, equivalent to about 3 per
cent of its 3,000- strong retail network. He added that he
would consider packaging several dealerships together for
sale on a "case-by-case basis".

The move suggests that Nissan is tackling one of the most
sensitive - and problematic - issues facing corporate Japan
as it tries to eliminate excess capacity.  In many
industries, particularly manufacturing, distribution
networks harbour heavy debts and inefficiencies due to

As a result, nearly 40 per cent of car dealers in Japan are
generating losses. Loans to troubled dealers have
contributed to mounting debts at some Japanese carmakers,
including Nissan.  The group had net interest-bearing debts
of Y1,382bn ($13bn), excluding finance-related liabilities,
at the end of September 1999.

It was not clear how many of Nissan's sales affiliates,
which operate more than one dealership, have been closed.
Analysts have been hoping that asset sales would improve
Nissan's financial situation. The carmaker has warned of
more than Y600bn in net losses in the year ended in March
because of weak sales and restructuring charges.

This week, Nissan confirmed the sale of its aerospace
division to Ishi kawajima-Harima Heavy Industries, a
Japanese engineering group. Last month, it sold its shares
in local dealership Tokyo Nissan. (Financial Times  12-

SODICK PLASTECH CO.: Parent injects 2.1B Yen into it
Sodick Co. (6143), a manufacturer of electrodischargers,
has injected 2.1 billion yen in capital into Sodick
Plastech Co., a subsidiary whose liabilities exceeded its

Sodick gave the unit its land and buildings, which it had
been leasing from the parent. Half of the total capital
injection was added to paid-in capital, with the other half
going to capital reserves. The subsidiary wiped out 900
million yen in excess liabilities.

Sodick Plastech's business is reviving thanks to demand
from the information technology sector, and the company
aims to going public. It expects a 700 million yen pretax
profit in fiscal 2000, as well as a net profit of 500
million yen. (Nikkei  11-April-2000)

VERTEX LINK CORP.: Forecasts 260M Yen loss in FY99
Personal computer wholesaler Vertex Link Corp. (9816) is
projecting a pretax loss of 260 million yen for fiscal
1999, narrowing from its 386 million yen loss a year

The company forecast a 50 million yen profit for the full
year when it released its results for the half ended
September 1999, but its free-PC business missed sales
targets. Full-year sales are now seen at 9.92 billion yen,
or 1.1 billion yen less than previously projected.

In its free-PC operation, Vertex Link agreed to give away
IBM Corp. computers to customers who agreed to do a certain
amount of business with an e-commerce service. The business
plan projected revenue of 2 billion yen from this
operation, but delayed deliveries and other factors left
sales at 1.67 billion yen.

The business was projected to turn a 14 million yen profit,
but will instead be about 86 million yen in the red.
(Nikkei  11-April-2000)


DAEWOO ELECTRONICS: Courts declare Annual Meeting invalid
The workout plan for Daewoo Electronics has reached a
bottleneck, with the Seoul District Court invalidating the
firm's March 24 annual general meeting of shareholders.

Minor shareholders of the firms had earlier filed a request
for a court injunction on resolutions approved at the
meeting as they had been banned from participating and had
been denied their request to make a proposal at the
meeting. Daewoo Electronics and its creditors' group had
passed resolutions to convert a total of W84 billion of the
firm's debt into equity. (Digital Chosun  11-April-2000)

DAEWOO MOTOR: Strike could cause W1T in delayed production
HYUNDAI MOTOR: Strike could cause W1T in delayed production
KIA MOTORS: Strike could cause W1T in delayed production
The ongoing strike by automotive workers that is slated to
end today could cause delay of production worth 730 billion
won, industry sources estimated yesterday.

Should the strike drag on to the end of the month, it could
cost more than 1 trillion won in delayed production, they
said. In addition, auto insurance firms and financial
institutions would likely face losses also from the

The sources said that in terms of the number of vehicles,
three auto makers - Hyundai Motor, Daewoo Motor and Kia
Motors - whose workers are on the picket line could face a
delay in the production of 72,000 units amid the ongoing

Hyundai would face production delays of 41,780 units
amounting to 433.6 billion won; Daewoo 13,540 units
amounting to 137.5 billion won and Kia 16,837 units
amounting to 156.9 billion won, they said.

In terms of exports, damages worth about $360 million could
result from the delayed productions _ Hyundai with 22,979
units worth 238.5 billion won, Daewoo with 8,869 units
worth 85.8 billion won and Kia with 8,924 units worth 83.2
billion won.

The car makers have suffered from a major loss of operating
hours. Daewoo workers, who has been on a partial strike
since Feb. 15, clocked up to 200 hours, Hyundai 180 hours
and Kia 135 hours. They estimated that if the strike
continues until April 15, it could cause delayed production
worth 870 billion won and export delay of $430 million. If
the strike drags on until April 22, 1.46 trillion won worth
of vehicles would face production delays.

"Since the automotive industry has far-reaching networks of
related industries, the strike could cause a dent on the
national economy," an industry watcher said, adding that
financing firms, insurers and rent-a-car businesses are
some of the sectors that would be affected.

Meanwhile, Kia sued three striking labor union leaders at
the prosecution's office for obstructing business operation
yesterday and decided to convene a disciplinary committee
for 17, including the three, union leaders. (Korea Times


BELLE CORP.: Sy seen accumulating shares
Publicly listed leisure and gaming firm Belle Corp. has
drawn strong financial muscle from retail tycoon Henry Sy,
who has long been interested to acquire the majority
control of the company.

INQUIRER sources confirmed that Sy has been buying shares
of the gaming and property company recently while the group
of businessman Roberto V. Ongpin has been selling shares in
the market.  Sy was said to have been purchasing shares
from some outstanding equity floats from foreign players
through his various companies and trust accounts.

Sy currently has only one representation in Belle, which
owns Tagaytay Highlands Corp., and is into the jai alai
business, through son Hans, who sits as the vice chair of
its 15-member board of directors.

A source from Belle subsidiary APC Group Inc. said Sy used
to own more shares in Belle than Ongpin and had even
offered to buy a majority stake in the company. Ongpin,
however, did not even want to give him more seats in the
company's executive committee.

"That pissed him off and he started unloading his shares in
Belle," the source said.

With Ongpin out of the picture and Sy staging a strong
comeback at Belle, sources said a renewed takeover bid was
a possibility especially since Belle was trying to rebound
from heavy losses. However, Belle sources stressed that no
offer has been laid on the table so far but said it would
be a welcome move as far as the APC group was concerned.

The source noted that the APC people and Sy's sons were
part of the so-called "Xavier (School) mafia" and that a
meeting of the minds was not difficult.  Other market
sources said cash-strapped Belle would benefit from a
financial backing from Sy's SM group, one of the very few
local conglomerates which has the capability to expand amid
the crisis with its P10-billion cash hoard and P3-billion
annual cash flow. The SM group owns and operates the
biggest mall empire in the Philippines.

"He's basically convinced on the prospects of Belle. He
looks at the APC group as part of his family. He loves
Tagaytay Highlands. He's looking at the future," the source

To date, Belle is trying to recuperate from heavy losses
which were attributed by its management to "bad
investments" made in previous years. Based on its latest
report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Belle
incurred a record net loss of P3.29 billion last year.

Belle blamed last year's net loss to bad investments in APC
Group Inc., Sinophil Corp. and Belle Bay Plaza projects. It
said that the nearly P800 million in total financial
charges arising from loans incurred mostly in 1997 also
contributed to the losses. These investments, according to
the Belle report, were made during the term of Jaime
Gonzales and Ongpin, who were ousted from their posts as
company chair and chief executive, respectively.

Ongpin, who served as trade minister under the Marcos
administration, masterminded the rise of Belle into a stock
favorite with its entry into jai alai. But the other
shareholders of the company, including Sy, did not like his
management style. He was likewise thrown out of the boards
of APC and Sinophil, which operates the Subic Bay Resorts
and Casinos.

Hans Sy has recently infused fresh funds into a new APC
undertaking, the emerging Internet business through Vantage
Equities Inc., in the form of private placements. The
market sees Vantage competing head-on with Ongpin's own, which was likewise in the Internet business.

For his part, Sy is keen on expanding into the hotel
business and has identified Tagaytay as one of the areas,
aside from Cebu and Baguio, where he wants to put up his
first three hotels. But Belle sources said they did not
know whether Sy's interest in Belle was directly related to
his hotel business plan. (Philipine Daily Inquirer  12-

NATIONAL STEEL CORP.: Must submit rehab plan by April 17
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has turned
down the appeal of debt-strapped National Steel Corp. (NSC)
to have until the end of the month to submit its revised
rehabilitation plan.

Instead, the SEC ordered the Mindanao-based steel firm to
submit by April 17, its amended rehabilitation plan that
will detail its strategy to reverse the financial losses of
the company. The interim receivers for NSC led by Monico V.
Jacob and Antonio Arizabal wanted the extension since they
had just assumed their posts and are still negotiating with
creditor banks on how to rehabilitate the company, the
inputs of which will be incorporated in the amended
rehabilitation plan.

The receivers said they already met the steering committee
of creditor banks, including representatives from the
Philippine National Bank, Land Bank of the Philippines,
Global Bank and Credit Agricole. It was agreed that steps
will be taken to revive the company and to immediately
preserve its assets to keep these from deteriorating. The
banks also agreed to appoint a comptrollers.

The receivers also met with NSC management to express the
creditors concerns about maintaining the assets and
equipment of the company. The NSC's rehabilitation plan
will hinge largely on finding investors willing to pump
fresh money into the company to be used immediately to buy
raw materials needed to resume steel production.

Recently, a group of investors led by Grupo F. Jacinto
(GFJ) which has the financial muscle to put up an initial
cash infusion of $40-$50 million in exchange for an equity
of 51 percent in the steel firm expressed interest in NSC.
NSC added it is also talking to European steel firm,
Duferco S.A. of Switzerland, said to be the largest
independent trading firm in the world and also the biggest
trader of slabs.

Together with its extensive trading operations, Duferco
S.A. is becoming a major producer of steel finished
products in the world, currently producing five million
metric tons.  NSC said that Duferco S.A has tied up with
Novolipetsk Metallurgical Kombinat (NLMK), a major slabs
producer in Russia, with their plan to rehabilitate the
Iligan-based steel company. (Philippine Star  12-April-

PHILIPPINE NAT.BANK: Hong Kong group wants to join May sale
The block of soon-to-be-sold shares in semiprivate
Philippine National Bank (PNB) may still grow larger as
Hong Kong-based Templeton Asset Management Group has agreed
"in principle" to sell its 12.9% stake.

Due to time constraints, however, the Department of Finance
(DoF) is yet to decide if the global fund manager's stake
will be placed in the auction block by May 15, along with
the government's and Lucio C. Tan's combined 76% stake.

Finance Undersecretary Cornelio C. Gison yesterday said the
Templeton group expressed interest in joining the block
sale of PNB shares.

"They sent a letter inquiring about the joint sale. They
cited a (newspaper) report (about the DoF) inviting them to
join the sale. We discussed it and they expressed their
intention to join the sale," he told reporters after a
teleconference with Templeton deputy chief Allan Lam

Mr. Gison said the DoF is yet to draw the terms and
conditions for the joint sale with the Templeton group but
expects to discuss the deal further this week. Finance
Secretary Jose T. Pardo said the Templeton group's stake is
not likely to be included in the May 15 joint sale if the
deal's terms will not be ironed out soon.

"We are nearing the end of April and we don't know how fast
they can react," he said. "I don't know yet if their stake
can be included in the bidding."

The Finance chief said it is "very likely" that only the
combined stake of the government and Mr. Tan will be up for
grabs by May 15. The tycoon recently signified his
commitment to unload his 46% stake together with the
government's 30% stake in the bank.  Mr. Gison yesterday
said the DoF and Mr. Tan have yet to agree on the floor
price for the PNB shares pending the results of a parallel
audit on the bank.

Meanwhile, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission
yesterday ended its two-week review of the country,
convinced of the government's economic targets yet still
doubtful of the forthcoming privatization of PNB.

"The review mission is still concerned about the
transparency of the past PNB sale," a source privy to the
talks with the Fund yesterday said.

Both the IMF and the World Bank had expressed concern over
the "lack of transparency" in the bank's stock rights offer
last September, which enabled tycoon Lucio Tan to scoop up
shares, enough to be the bank's biggest shareholder and
install four directors in its board.

Saying "We cannot undo what's already been done," the top
government source said, "The IMF will just have to take the
National Government's word for it."

IMF officials will be "watching very closely" the May 15
joint sale of the government's 30% stake in the semiprivate
bank and Mr. Tan's 46% controlling interest, he said.
"Ensuring a transparent sale in the future is the only way
this can be resolved," he added.

Another finance official, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said the IMF is willing to "give the Philippine
government a second chance" to prove its commitment to
transparency in the deal.  He conceded, however, that the
IMF continues to "press the government" to remain committed
to transparency in the upcoming sale.

An IMF review is a crucial step for the government's six-
month extension request of its $1.4-bilion standby facility
program.  To date, the country has so far availed of some
$740 million in loans from 182-nation multilateral funding
agency to support the country's balance of payments. The
government will avail of the $660 million balance in two
equal tranches once the IMF approves the economic and
financial policies for the year.

Mr. Buenaventura yesterday said the IMF review team, led by
mission chief Markus Rodlauer, is satisfied about the
National Government's performance especially on the fiscal
side. "Revenue collection have been good so far," he said.

He added that, with the conclusion of the two-week review,
no major changes are foreseen in the memorandum of economic
and financial policies (MEFP) set to be presented by the
review mission to the IMF executive board. "There are no
major changes," he said. "We only have minor adjustments in
the inflation rate and some monetary targets." (Business
World  12-April-2000)

PHILIPPINE VETERANS BANK: GSIS probes surety bond deal
The Government Service Insurance System is conducting a
full investigation of the alleged unauthorized transfer of
a $10-million bond from Philippine Veterans Bank to
financial firm Bear, Stearns International Ltd. on
suspicions of fraud.

The agency has also endorsed the matter to the Ombudsman
for appropriate filing of charges against GSIS officials
involved in the fraudulent transaction.

GSIS senior vice president and general counsel Manuel S.
Crudo Jr. said in a March 15 letter to law firm Allen and
Overy that GSIS "views with utmost concern" the deletion of
Philippine Veterans Bank in the surety bond and the
transfer of the bond to Bear Stearns on Feb. 4 last year.

Crudo said the acceptance of the bond by Bear Stearns
without verification was "suspicious" because it was based
solely on certifications issued by London-based GSIS
officials, namely vice presidents J. Fernando U. Campa¤a
and Alex M. Valencerina, in March and July 1998.

"GSIS cannot understand why the lenders had tenaciously
paid attention to and made complete reliance on the
certifications of Valencerina and Campa¤a without bothering
to determine from the GSIS the extent of their authority,"
Crudo said.

Campa¤a certified on Feb. 10, 1999 that the surety bond was
a "genuine, authentic, valid and binding" obligation of
GSIS and could be transferred to Bear Stearns.

"The GSIS views with utmost concern the circumstances
surrounding the deletion of PVB in the light of the absence
of an appropriate assignment of the surety bond and the
suspicious acceptance and reliance by Bear Stearns on the
alleged change of the references," Crudo said. "The GSIS
considers the events and the circumstances as indices that
induce one to believe that there was a conspiracy to commit
fraud to prejudice the GSIS and the government."

Crudo also said that Bear Stearns was not consistent and
"grossly negligent" because of the failure to verify the
corporate authority of the GSIS officials in issuing the
certifications although it is still investigating the
extent and the parties involved.

Crudo issued the statement in response to a demand letter
from Aon Financial Products Inc. which assumed the credit
risk over the surety bond for Bear Stearns.  Aon's claim
stemmed from a GSIS bond issued in March 1998 with real
estate firm Ecobel Land Inc. as principal and Philippine
Veterans Bank as obligee.

The bond was then transferred to Bear Stearns International
Ltd. after the financial firm entered into a term loan
agreement with Ecobel using the GSIS bond as collateral.
Bear Stearns, in turn, entered into a credit default swap
agreement with Aon in February last year wherein Aon
assumed the credit risk of the Ecobel loan.

The loan matured on March 7 this year and Ecobel failed to
pay despite demand, prompting Aon to demand GSIS to comply
with its obligations under the bond.  The GSIS said it has
no obligation to cover for the $10-million due to the
questionable circumstances.

GSIS said its records showed that it cancelled the surety
bond as early as February last year as the collateral from
Ecobel Land Inc. owned by Josephine Edralin was found to be
"not genuine."

Crudo added that it was incumbent upon Bear Stearns to
verify the status of the surety bond at the time of the
drawdown as practiced internationally adding that GSIS was
liable only to the exposure of the original obligee of the
bond which was Philippine Veterans Bank.

Finance Secretary Jose T. Pardo, in a statement issued
yesterday, said there was no basis to say that the
government was facing possible cross-default on its
guarantee obligations arising from this transaction.
Pardo said that the issuance of a sovereign guarantee by
the Philippine government is a tedious process requiring
the issuance of a formal full power authority by the
President. The national government did not approve and was
not a party signatory to this agreement. (Philippine Daily
Inquirer  12-April-2000)

WESTMONT INVEST.CORP.: Task force to be formed for probe
Three government agencies will form a joint-task force that
would investigate the beleaguered Westmont Investment
Corp., an investment house formerly controlled by business
allies and son of former Finance Secretary Edgardo

Officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission said
SEC Chair Lilia Bautista and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
Governor Rafael Buenaventura have already agreed to the
creation of the task force. The task force would also
include representatives from the Department of Justice.

The SEC's prosecution and enforcement department said it
would also investigate ASB Holdings Inc. for taking the
investments of hundreds of investors and refusing to make
payments on post-dated checks issued to the investors.

Also, the Capital Market Development Council, an advisory
council composed of public and private representatives
involved in the development of the capital markets, has
created a task force that will review existing laws
covering a whole range of deposit substitutes such as
commercial paper and other debt or investment instruments.

A BSP official said the review was aimed at putting in
place laws that could prevent abuses of deposit
substitutes. The instruments include certificates of money
market borrowings such as promissory notes, repurchase
agreements, commercial papers and securities, and
certificates of assignments.

An SEC official said laws should ensure that companies or
people could not just take investments from the public and
run away with the funds. Wincorp, a wholly owned investment
house of Unioil Resources and Holdings Corp., had brokered
the lending of about P7 billion from over 2,000 investors
to 20 companies, mostly owned or controlled by Espiritu's
son and the former finance chief's business allies such as
Alfonso "Boy" Reyno, the Cua family and Exequiel Robles.
Most of the over 2,000 investors are Filipino-Chinese from
Binondo and Cebu.

Unioil, itself, is largely owned by Espiritu's son and
business allies, including Tan, who himself who holds a 25-
percent stake and has been a close business ally of
Espiritu. Pearlbank Securities Inc. of fertilizer king
Manuel Tan has filed with the Securities and Exchange
Commission a complaint of fraud and misrepresentation
against Wincorp and officials of the investment house.

Pearlbank and its chairman, Tan, said in separate cases
filed with the SEC that Pearlbank "owes nothing to Wincorp
or its investors" and yet Pearlbank was made to appear as a
borrower in several debt instruments issued by Wincorp to
some of its investors.

The ASB Group of Luke Roxas has reportedly run into
liquidity problems as a result of the panic from Chinese-
Filipino investors in Wincorp. Roxas, head of the ASB
Group, said that the group was looking into seeking a
restructuring of its billions of debts to investors and
creditor banks.

The Capital Market Development Council-led task force also
plans to launch an information campaign as to the merits
and demerits of deposit substitutes. "The main problem here
is how to protect the gullible against the greedy," said a
BSP official.

The central bank also said it would start to get tough on
financial companies, including banks, that continue to
engage in services that are not covered by their licenses
such as brokering.

"This business of brokering should be stopped or there
should be sufficient disclosure because some of Wincorp's
clients might have thought it was a deposit," the BSP said.

Wincorp is not allowed to take deposits for the purpose of
lending because it does not have a quasi-banking license.
An investment firm found accepting unauthorized deposits
face a penalty of P50,000 to P200,000 and/or imprisonment
of two to 10 years under the New Central Bank Act.
(Philippine Daily Inquirer  12-April-2000)


BANGKOK EXPRESSWAY PLC.: Plans debentures to re-fi debt
Bangkok Expressway Plc (BECL) says it plans to issue 40
billion baht in domestic debentures to refinance its
outstanding debts.

However, the company is considering the possibility of
putting up a fully issued lot of 40 billion baht in bonds
for sale to investors.  A company executive said that since
all assets had been pledged as collateral to creditors, if
BECL issued bonds worth less than the outstanding debts,
creditors could not allow the company to use its assets to
back the bonds.

But if the total exceeded the value of the debts, the bonds
would have first-tier status and be backed by assets. The
first tier bonds would also carry a lower interest rate.

"We are studying various options to issue domestic bonds,
on condition that they are the largest amount and the
longest maturity possible," said the executive, who asked
not to be named.

Supong Chayutsahakij, managing director, said issuing bonds
would help ease the company's interest burden, currently
300 million baht a month.  "For every one percentage point
cut in interest rates, the company's total interest cost is
reduced by 400 million baht," he said.

In January BECL completed negotiations to postpone the
payment of a first instalment on a debt of 1,379 million
baht until October, with the first payment reduced to 49
million baht.  Mr Supong said the company projected that it
would be eight to 10 years before it could pay its first
dividend to shareholders. Dividends are conditional on
reaching accumulated profit of two billion baht. As of Dec
31,BECL had accumulated profit of 318 million baht.

He forecast that this year would be the first year that
BECL would show a net profit after four years of net
losses. The forecast is based on a 10% increase in traffic
volume this year on the company's expressways.  Last year
BECL had a net loss of 42 million baht, compared with a
loss of 654 million baht in the previous year.

The company's shareholders on Monday approved a reduction
in the number of board members to 12 from 20. Its share
price rose yesterday by 0.75 baht to close at 11.75 baht.
(Bangkok Post  12-April-2000)

DBS THAI DANU BANK: Completes staff cutback plan
DBS Thai Danu Bank says it has completed its reorganisation
plan, which will involve cutting 700 staff and closing 34
branches. The bank now has 1,847 staff, down from 2,427 at
the end of 1999, and 62 branches.

Executive vice-president Chaiwat Utaiwan said the number of
staff per branch had been cut to 12 from 17.6 before the
early retirement plan. He said the bank had no plans to cut
more staff or branches in the near future. (Bangkok Post

KRUNG THAI BANK: Former president in fraud bust
The younger brother of Thailand's finance minister faces
fraud charges over his alleged role in an illegal loan made
while he was president of Krung Thai Bank, the central bank

The charges stem from a 75 million baht (HK$15.5 million)
loan that "damaged" Krung Thai's finances, said Rathakorn
Nimwatana, assistant governor at Bank of Thailand.
Sirin Nimmanahaeminda quit Krung Thai last year, after
seven years at the helm, as regulators and politicians
delved into the balance sheet of Thailand's second-largest

Shortly after his departure, a PricewaterhouseCoopers audit
found more than 80 per cent of loans were substandard -
either overdue or in jeopardy because of questionable
collateral.  Charges against Mr Sirin come as Tarrin
Nimmanahaeminda, his elder brother, is feuding with central
bank Governor Chatumongkol Sonakul over the role of the
central bank and the use of a US$10 billion (HK$78 billion)
Bank of Thailand reserve fund.

Mr Tarrin has said he will not become involved in legal
proceedings involving his brother.  "Any criminal charge
against my brother is the responsibility of the central
bank," Mr Tarrin said.

Mr Sirin, 53, joined Krung Thai in 1991 after working as an
executive at the Petroleum Authority of Thailand, the state
oil company. Both Mr Sirin and Mr Tarrin have graduate
business degrees from Stanford University. Mr Sirin joins
several dozen former Thai bankers charged the past year by
the central bank with loan fraud.

Among others charged have been Narongchai Akrasanee, former
chairman of General Finance & Securities, and Som
Jatusipitak, former president of Siam City Bank. Both
Narongchai and Som became cabinet ministers after their
banks went bust in 1997.

Criminal charges have surged in the wake of a financial
crisis that began in 1997 that has led to the closure or
nationalization of about three-quarters of Thailand's
finance companies. Still, few fraud cases filed by the
central bank have come to trial.

Thailand has spent at least $40 billion trying to rescue
ailing lenders.  Mr Tarrin and the current governor, who
was in 1998, have recently feuded over the bill for the
bailout. Mr Tarrin and some others in the cabinet have
sought to shift a surplus in the central bank's reserves to
the bailout budget.

Mr Chatumongkol has argued that the funds should only be
used in an emergency. During much of the early and mid-
1990s, bankers heaped loans on companies as the economy
boomed - Thailand's growth averaged abut 9 per cent from
1985 to 1995. Most criminal charges have stemmed from loans
made to family or friends with collateral that was either
overstated or non-existent.

Pin Chakkaphak, the former president of Finance One, who
fled Thailand two years ago after the investment bank he
controlled collapsed, said recently from London, where he
is awaiting a court hearing on extradition, that many cases
in Thailand were trumped up for personal gain.  (Hong Kong
Standard  12-April-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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