TCRAP_Public/000823.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, August 23, 2000, Vol. 3, No. 164


* A U S T R A L I A *

HUTCHISON TELECOMM.: Rapid growth contributes to 1H loss
JAMES HARDIE INDUSTRIES: Record share-price fall

* C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G *

GUANGDONG ENTERPRISE HLDGS: Gov't urges lenders to ok deal

* I N D O N E S I A *

PT BANK of BALI: Posts narrower 1H loss
PT CITRA BHAKTI MARGATAMA: IBRA takes over toll project
PT CITRA MATARAM SATRIAMARGA: IBRA takes over toll project
PT MARGA NURINDI BHAKTI: IBRA takes over toll project
SALIM GROUP : IBRA sells off First Pacific stake

* J A P A N *

BANDAI MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT: Approved for liquidation
HIKARI TSUSHIN INC.: Still in red after stake sales
MITSUBISHI MOTORS: Scandal, financial woes heighten

* K O R E A *

CENTRAL BANKING CORP.: To seek foreign investor money
H&S INVESTMENT BANK: Fails to submit reform plan to Gov't
HYUNDAI GROUP: Founder sells shares to pay debt down
JINDO GROUP: FSS refers to NTS for probe
KOREA MERCHANT BANKING: Can't raise money for capital base
MIJU GROUP: FSS refers to NTS for probe
SEOHAN GROUP: FSS refers to NTS for probe
SHIN DONG BANG GROUP: FSS refers to NTS for probe
SHINHO GROUP: FSS refers to NTS for probe
SHINHO PAPER GROUP: FSS refers to NTS for probe
TONGYANG STEEL: FSS refers to NTS for probe

* M A L A Y S I A *

SRI HARTAMAS HOTELS SDN: Administrators appointed

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

BW RESOURCES: Name to change, financial picture doesn't
PHILIPPINE NAT.BANK: Reduces profit forecast to zero
URBAN BANK: Petron deposits partially converted to shares

* S I N G A P O R E *

ACROSSASIA: Cuts 20% of staff, refocusing on core business

* T H A I L A N D *

DATAMAT: Posts Q2 net loss
MANDARIN HOTEL: Plans to sell assets to pay debt
SAFARI WORLD: Posts Q2 loss
SIAM UNITED STATES: Posts Q2 net loss
THAI HEAT EXCHANGE: Posts Q2 net loss
TPI POLENE: To manage own plan


HUTCHISON TELECOMM.: Rapid growth contributes to 1H loss
Hutchison Telecommunications (Aust) Ltd. incurred a
$22.275 million net loss for its operations during the
period January to June 2000, which it attributed mainly to
its rapid growth and increased personal and marketing

Revenue increased to $192.369 million during the first half
of the year, up 23 percent, primarily due to growth in its
mobile resale business. Mobile resale subscribers totalled
285,276 at June 30, up 29 percent from the same period last

Average mobile resale rose 10 per cent to 163 minutes per
month in the half, mostly due to lower tariffs and
promotions. Hutchison said subscriber bad debt was
controlled at around 1 per cent in the period. No dividend
was declared in line with the same period last year.

JAMES HARDIE INDUSTRIES: Record share-price fall
James Hardie Industries suffered its biggest one-day share
price drop in more than a decade yesterday as investor
concerns about a sharp fall in prices for its gypsum wall
boarding overshadowed a 45 per cent jump in first-quarter

Despite record sales of fibre-cement and gypsum wall
boarding to the US housing market, James Hardie closed down
43 cents or 9.6 per cent at $4.05.  The building materials
company derives 90 per cent of its profits from the US,
where its business has been buoyed by a housing
construction boom.

But chief executive Peter Macdonald yesterday conceded that
the housing construction market in both the US and
Australia was softening.  The US Federal Reserve board
meets this week to consider a further lift in official
interest rates despite latest figures showing US home
construction falling to a two-year low.

"What we are seeing in the US economy is a form of soft-
landing playing out this year. We don't see (the housing
market) going over a cliff," Mr Macdonald said.

But in Australia, Mr Macdonald pointed to "early signs of a
quite sharp reduction in construction activity" following a
bring-forward of orders to beat the July 1 increases in the
tax on new housing under the GST.  Gypsum in the form of
Hardirock wall boarding comprises 35 per cent of James
Hardie's total sales, which rose 28 per cent to $423.6
million, underpinning a net profit of $42.3 million for the
three months to June 30.

But the outlook has been clouded by the opening of new
capacity by James Hardie competitors in the US, which has
seen gypsum product prices drop 17 per cent since the end
of the first quarter to $US128 per thousand square feet.
Mr Macdonald pointed to a "quite stunning sharp uptick" in
gypsum sales volumes - up 16 per cent to 580.3 million
square feet - and a 25 per cent lift in gypsum revenue to
$146.7 million.

Be said it was too early to tell whether the price declines
would dent the group's full-year profit.  And he declined
to re-iterate his comments, made in July at the company's
annual shareholders' meeting, that net profit for the full
year would be ahead of last year's $150.6 million result.
However, analysts took the gypsum price cuts in their
stride, describing James Hardie's overall result as

"The story about fibre cement in the US is still a good one
to tell. Gypsum is a short-term issue," said Macquarie
Equities analyst Mark Cotton.  "But everyone knows about
the price decline in gypsum. Often it's the reality of the
decline on the day that affects things."

James Hardie's fibre-cement sales rose 34 per cent to
$159.7 million and Mr Macdonald said the company was
considering building either a new US fibre-cement plant or
increasing existing capacity. (The Australian  22-Aug-2000)

C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G

GUANGDONG ENTERPRISE HLDGS: Gov't urges lenders to ok deal
Lenders to Guangdong Enterprise Holdings (GDE) have been
advised to accept a debt-settlement package offered by the
troubled fund-raising flagship of Guangdong province.

Hong Kong Monetary Authority deputy chief executive David
Carse warned that if the deal were to collapse at the last
hurdle, it would leave banks worse off.  GDE, which was
swamped beneath debts of about US$5.95 billion owed to 120
creditor banks, has prepared a debt restructuring proposal
aimed at warding off insolvency and allowing it to trade
back into the black.

At the time a proposal was first put to creditors, Mr Carse
also intervened in the subsequent debate, advising banks on
June 4 to agree to the restructuring plan or risk even
larger losses if they pushed for liquidation.  Mr Carse
said the long saga of GDE was now drawing to a close.

"The banks have, I believe, managed to negotiate the best
deal possible, and the last remaining step is for the banks
to review and sign the detailed documentation to put the
restructuring into effect," Carse said. "I understand that
when the documentation is sent to the banks, they will have
plenty to read. There is unlikely to be any opportunity for
renegotiation of the deal, and if it were to collapse at
the final stage, the banks would certainly be worse off."
(South China Morning Post  23-Aug-2000)

Standard Chartered Bank (StanChart), one of Singapore's
oldest foreign banks, has wound up its merchant banking
arms in the republic and Hong Kong.

Standard Chartered Merchant Bank Asia (SCMBA) and Standard
Chartered Asia were both wound up in May and most functions
had been transferred to the main bank, the Singapore
Business Times reported, quoting StanChart's group head of
corporate and institutional banking (sales) Euleen Goh in

As part of the re-alignment, StanChart is said to have
withdrawn from equity finacing and merger and acquisition
(M&A) activities.  Stanchart has over the years got out of
asset management, private banking and stockbroking, while
paring down its investment banking operations in several
locations, including Singapore.

Of 60 new Singapore listings this year, SCMBA handled only
three and the BT report said a lot of good mandates were
turned away because the bank had decided not to pursue this
line of business.  The decision was a practical one,
according to the report.

"Companies always need to borrow for their business and the
most efficient way to do this is through the debt market,"
said Goh, pointing out that equity raising was more like a
one-off event and less frequently used.  "Instead,
StanChart would focus on providing customers with core
financial services that would underpin their business on an
ongoing basis."  (Star Online  22-Aug-2000)


PT BANK of BALI: Posts narrower 1H loss
Indonesia's PT Bank Bali (P.BBL) reported that it posted a
623.3 billion rupiah ($1=IDR8,230) net loss during the
first half of the year.

That was substantailly down from a loss of 2.028 trillion
rupiah (IDR2.028) for the same period last year. Bank Bali
said during the period it still booked a loss in interest
income of 161.03 billion rupiah, compared with a loss of
451.17 billion rupiah last year.

The company said its capital deficiency as of June 30 was
IDR4.424 trillion, compared with IDR3.713 trillion in the
corresponding period last year.  Bank Indonesia took over
Bank Bali last week to speed up the recapitalization, which
bogged down in a legal battle between the Ramli family -
the bank's founder - and the state Indonesian Bank
Restructuring Agency.

The recapitalization of Bank Bali is a major task Indonesia
must complete under its latest letter of intent with the
International Monetary Fund. Bank Bali's recapitalization
has been delayed by a lending scandal, which broke last
year. The scandal involves the allegedly improper transfer
of $80 million from the bank to a company controlled by the
Golkar party.  (Asiagateway  22-Aug-2000)

PT CITRA BHAKTI MARGATAMA: IBRA takes over toll project
PT CITRA MATARAM SATRIAMARGA: IBRA takes over toll project
PT MARGA NURINDI BHAKTI: IBRA takes over toll project
Four toll road projects have been taken over by the
Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) after the
owners were declared in default. The three contractors of
the projects PT Marga Nurindi Bhakti, PT Citra Mataram
Satriamarga Persada and PT Citra Bhakti Margatama have
lost their right over the projects, according to the report
of deputy minister for public works Asrap Hadiroso.

SALIM GROUP : IBRA sells off First Pacific stake
The Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) said
yesterday it had sold a 6 per cent stake in the Hongkong-
based blue-chip conglomerate First Pacific Co Ltd for
US$51.9 million (S$89.3 million).

An IBRA official told Reuters the stake had been sold
through ING Barings at an average price of HK$2.28 per
share in a deal that was finalised on Aug 18. The share is
currently quoted in Hongkong at HK$2.80.  The official
declined to name the buyer of the stake in First Pacific,
which has interests in a range of companies.

Indonesia's government still has around 4 per cent in First
Pacific.  The six percent stake had previously been held by
the Salim Group, once Indonesia's largest conglomerate and
which prospered for decades partly from its close links to
disgraced former president Suharto.  "ING Barings acted as
the placement agent on this deal," the official said.

The powerful IBRA, charged with selling an enormous amount
of assets it has taken over in the wake of the country's
economic crisis, is aiming to raise 18.9 trillion rupiah
(S$3.93 billion) from April to December this year. Much of
that will have to come from sales of the Salim Group, which
the agency now controls.  That includes 108 firms covering
over 40 industries.

IBRA is looking at whether to sell the companies off
individually or as a whole.  (Reuters, The Jakarta Post 22-


BANDAI MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT: Approved for liquidation
The Tokyo District Court has approved beginning the
liquidation of Bandai Music Entertainment Inc., a unit of
major toy maker Bandai Co.

Private credit-research agency Teikoku Databank cofirms
that Bandai Music applied for special liquidation June 30
having 7.3 billion yen in debts. The application was
approved July 28.

Liquidation charges for the loss-making unit already had
been posted in its earnings report for the business year
that ended March 31, 2000, according to Bandai. It added it
will have no impact on its performance for the current

Bandai Music reported some 100 billion yen in sales in the
business year ended Feb. 1998. Its business had
deteriorated of late, however, partly due to a plunge in
sales resulting from a lack of music headliners and an
increase in marketing expenses, Teikoku Databank noted.

HIKARI TSUSHIN INC.: Still in red after stake sales
Despite posting profits on the sale of stakes in two
separate companies, Japanese Internet investor Hikari
Tsushin Inc's finances remain upside down.

The company reported Monday it had posted a 14.3 billion
yen profit by selling its share holdings in fellow Internet
investor Softbank Corp. and a 6.2 billion yen profit on
sales of part of its holdings of Tumbleweed Communications
Corp , a U.S. software maker.

The sale proceeds are earmarked for offsetting some of the
company's restructuring costs, which approach 56 billion
yen, Hikari said in a statement.

Concerns continue over Hikari's financial health and a lack
of transparency in disclosure. By July 7, Hikari shares had
sunk alomost 99 percent to a low of 3,600 yen from a year
high of 241,000 on February 15.

MITSUBISHI MOTORS: Scandal, financial woes heighten
A cover-up scandal at Mitsubishi Motors widened yesterday
when the firm said it hid customer complaints from the
government for more than 20 years, much longer than
acknowledged previously.

Japan's fourth-biggest car maker said it would recall an
extra 88,000 vehicles at home and some 200,000 vehicles in
the overseas markets to conduct various repairs, which will
bring the total recall cost to some 7.5 billion yen (S$119
million).  Its shares slid more than 2 per cent, or nine
yen, to 429 yen yesterday and tumbled more than 20 per cent
to 388 yen from a mid-July high of 497 yen after the
scandal broke last month.

But analysts said the recall would not necessarily have a
major lasting impact on Mitsubishi, noting other Japanese
car makers involved in recall scandals had weathered the
storm.  While making public the result of an internal
probe, company president Katsuhiko Kawasoe said: "I have no
option but to admit the report reflects a truly regrettable
state of affairs. That state of affairs is the result of a
lack of respect for rules and regulations on the part of
the company officers and employees involved," he told a
news conference.

Mitsubishi said an internal inquiry found the firm had been
hiding some complaints since 1977 while a Transport
Ministry official said 64,000 of 88,000 complaints filed
since April 1998 had been kept secret.  On July 18,
Mitsubishi Motors said it would offer to recall or check
692,000 cars and trucks in Japan, after saying it hid
complaints for eight years.

The ministry is considering how to punish the firm, a
spokesman said.  Mitsubishi is no stranger to scandal, with
the late 1990s marred by payoffs to corporate racketeers
and an embarrassing sexual harassment suit at its Normal,
Illinois plant that was settled for US$34 million (S$58.6

Mr Kawasoe, appointed chief executive in late 1997 to clean
up the company's image, said his pay and that of any
executives involved in the cover-up would be cut.
The scandal has raised doubts about struggling Mitsubishi
Motors' reforms, including a drive to cut costs and debt.
But Mr Seiji Sugiura, a car industry analyst at Nomura
Securities, said the incident may give Mitsubishi the
impetus to carry out reform.

"I believe Mitsubishi has the ability to change itself," he
said. "There are few cases where a recall has actually
hampered car sales."

Mitsubishi said in May its group net loss would triple to
70 billion yen in the year to next March, due to covering
retirement benefit liabilities.  To help steer itself to
prosperity, Mitsubishi last month sealed an alliance with
German-US car giant DaimlerChrysler, which agreed to take a
minority controlling stake of 34 per cent next March.
(Reuters, Straits Times  23-Aug-2000)


CENTRAL BANKING CORP.: To seek foreign investor money
Central Banking Corp. has plans to raise 50 billion won
($44.9 million) from foreign investors, including Germany's
Wind Horst Capital Co., in order to raise its ratio of
capital to risk-weighted assets to 9.3 percent by October's
end. According to a Maeil Business Report that cites the
Financial Supervisory Commission, Central Banking workers
will take a 10 percent pay cut to help their bank stay
afloat. The government now could make it a subsidiary of
state-run Korea Deposit Insurance Corp., then merge or sell
its operations to other financial institutions before year

H&S INVESTMENT BANK: Fails to submit reform plan to Gov't
Weak merchant bank H&S Investment Bank, suspended in July
for defaulting on a loan, failed to submit a self-rescue
plan by the government-imposed deadline, according to a
report in the Maeil Business Newspaper. The government now
could make it a subsidiary of state-run Korea Deposit
Insurance Corp., then merge or sell its operations to other
financial institutions before year end.

HYUNDAI GROUP: Founder sells shares to pay debt down
The Hyundai group sold a 6.1 per cent stake in Hyundai
Motor through domestic securities companies, prompting
questions as to whether South Korea's largest industrial
group may be reneging on a pledge to lessen the founding
family's influence on the car maker.

It sold the stake held by Hyundai founder Chung Ju Yung to
satisfy government demands that he lower its holdings
before the car maker can be separated from the parent group
legally.  But the stake was sold in such small blocks that
the buyers are not required to identify themselves

"The big question is how the government is going to react
to this," said Samsung Securities analyst Mark Barclay in
Seoul. "The government is going to take a really good look
at this."

Hyundai has been under pressure from the government and
creditors to separate profitable units and to guarantee
that their profits will not be siphoned off to support
weaker affiliates.  The group said on Aug 13 that Mr
Chung's stake in the car maker would be sold this month to
creditor banks, which would in turn resell the shares
before the end of the year.  It changed the plans earlier
this week, saying it would sell the stake itself.

"We sold 6.1 per cent or 12.71 million shares through
domestic securities companies but we do not know who the
buyers were," said Mr Kim Hyung Joo, a Hyundai Securities
spokesman, contradicting the group's earlier statement that
said Jardine Fleming would buy less than 5 per cent of the
car maker.

Jardine Fleming denied it made such a purchase or had been
mandated to buy the shares for resale.  The report "is
incorrect," said Jardine Fleming spokesman in Hongkong.
Jardine Fleming "has not done a placement of Hyundai

Hyundai said it would use the proceeds of the stake sale to
help Hyundai Engineering & Construction repay debts of 5.4
trillion won (S$8.1 billion).  After the sale, Mr Chung's
stake in Hyundai Motor will fall to 3 per cent as required
by the government for the car maker's spin-off.  (Bloomberg
News, Straits Times  22-Aug-2000)

JINDO GROUP: FSS refers to NTS for probe
MIJU GROUP: FSS refers to NTS for probe
SEOHAN GROUP: FSS refers to NTS for probe
SHIN DONG BANG GROUP: FSS refers to NTS for probe
SHINHO GROUP: FSS refers to NTS for probe
SHINHO PAPER GROUP: FSS refers to NTS for probe
TONGYANG STEEL: FSS refers to NTS for probe
The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) announced Tuesday
that it has referred eight business groups and individual
firms to the National Tax Service (NTS) for investigation
of their tax filings.

The groups and firms are as follows: Miju, Jindo, Shinho,
Shinho Petrochemical, Shinho Paper, Shin Dong Bang,
Tongyang Steel, and Seohan. The FSS explained that it had
followed up on allegations that the owners and management
of businesses undergoing workouts had been negligent in
their duties and conducted a probe of a total of 44 firms
in July.

The financial watchdog said that it had found that the
owners of the above eight firms and their subsidiaries had
been engaged in illegal business practices.  One high-
ranking FSS official said that the issue of whether or not
to investigate the individual tax filings of the owners is
entirely up to the NTS.

He did, however, add that as the business dealings in
question are all tied in to their personal finances, the
NTS would be likely to review the individual filings in
their investigation.

According to the FSS, Miju chair Park Sang-hee, who is also
the chair of the Korean Federation of Small Business and
sits on the National Assembly as a member of the ruling
Millennium Democratic Party, sold a plot of land to his
company for W2.4 billion at the end of 1997, and that
although he had received virtually all the money from the
sale, he had not yet released the land title to the

Jindo chair Kim Young-jin was also found to have been
involved in a similar illegal land transaction. In
addition, the FSS said Kim had borrowed W5.1 billion from
his company and then declared personal bankruptcy with W3.6
billion still outstanding on the loan.

According to the FSS, the majority of the eight firms had
illegally extended loans to poorly performing subsidiaries,
and that the loans were now unrecoupable.  (Digital Chosun

KOREA MERCHANT BANKING: Can't raise money for capital base
Maeil Business Report says that Korea Merchant Banking has
acknowledged that it cannot raise the 200 billion won
needed to raise its capital base after Hana Bank, its
largest shareholder, said it would only provide 45 billion
won -- equivalent to its stake in the ailing merchant bank.
The government now could make it a subsidiary of state-run
Korea Deposit Insurance Corp., then merge or sell its
operations to other financial institutions before year end.


SRI HARTAMAS HOTELS SDN: Administrators appointed
Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Bhd has appointed Gan Ah Tee,
Ooi Woon Chee and Mohd Raslan Abdul Rahman of KPMG as
special administrators for Sri Hartamas Hotels Sdn Bhd,
effective yesterday.

The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sri Hartamas Bhd,
owns two hotels in Penang and Malacca.  Danaharta said
yesterday that the special administrators would assume
control of the assets and affairs of Sri Hartamas Hotels.
It said that the powers of the management and the board of
the company were effectively suspended and only the special
administrators coauld deal with the assets of the
companies.  (Star Online  22-Aug-2000)


BW RESOURCES: Name to change, financial picture doesn't
Still unable to complete its premiere revenue driver -- its
2.4-billion Philippine peso ($53.4 million at PhP44.943=$1)
leisure project in Malate, Manila called the Sheraton
Marina complex - controversial gaming company BW Resources
Corp. (BWRC) continued to post heavy losses amounting to
PhP10.84 million ($.241 million) last year from P10.59
million in 1998.

The company did gain shareholders approval, however, to re-
engineer its business purpose to include information
technology with real-estate development and gaming.  BWRC
will now seek institutional approvals to change its name to
Fairmont Holdings, a name, which company officials said
sprung from "the desire to be fair to all."

The company figured in a price-rigging scandal late last
year which brought market volumes down to its knees to 18-
month lows this year and several government probes on the
company's heels.

"It's a problem we have to live with but we're trying to
ignore that and go through's unfortunate but it's
part of the reason why we're changing the name also to
forget the past...we'll concentrate on the business plan,
the Sheraton Marina, it may be gaming and it may be
information technology applied to gaming," said Jose Reyes,
Jr.,executive vice president and chief operating officer of
BWRC's financial consultant PentaCapital Investment Corp.

At the sidelines of the company's stockholder's meeting
yesterday, officials also said the Sheraton Marina property
will be mortgaged to raise funds to complete the project.
Officials failed to give estimates as to how much BWRC
planned to borrow to complete the project. However aside
from loans, the company will also offer stock rights aimed
to raise between PhP3 billion to PhP5 billion for the
completion of the Sheraton Marina project.

Mr. Reyes said Philippine laws allow a minimum of 1.5
billion shares to be issued in stock rights offerings
although the terms have yet to be determined. The company
targets to complete documentation requirements for the
offering by November this year.

Proceeds from the borrowings and rights offering may be
used to acquire online gaming firm Best World Gaming and
Entertainment Corp. (BWGEC) of Filipino Chinese businessman
Dante Tan. BWGEC holds a franchise to operate online bingo
games.  BW officials said they will be renegotiating terms
for the acquistion of BWGEC.

BWRC earlier deferred the plan to fold in BWGEC into its
operations via a share swap due to the battered performance
of the listed firm.  Allegations of insider trading have
pushed down the price of BW to PhP4.05 as of market's close
yesterday from a high of PhP107 in October last year.

The purchase plan agreed upon by the two companies provides
that BWGEC's 525.2 million shares will be acquired in
exchange for 823 million BWRC shares valued at PhP35
apiece. Under this arrangement, the value of the deal
should reach PhP28 billion. (Business World  22-Aug-2000)

PHILIPPINE NAT.BANK: Reduces profit forecast to zero
The Philippine National Bank (PNB) has reduced its net
income projection for the year to zero from P100 million
due to the delays in the initial P10- billion fresh capital
infusion, president and chief executive officer Feliciano
Miranda disclosed.

Miranda told reporters that the old forecast was based on
the assumption that the capital build-up would have been
completed by May.  But since majority owner Lucio C. Tan
had to accommodate a request by the government to sell
their respective sales as a block last April, the plan was
postponed to August or September through a stock rights

The offering is awaiting the approval of the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC). This would enable the bank to
comply with the 10-percent capital adequacy ratio (CAR)
prescribed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.  PNB's
capital stands at P14 billion and at this level, its CAR
stands at only six percent or below the minimum required.

"We are now hoping just to hit break-even because the new
capital did not enter as expected earlier. Maybe at around
P5 million or zero," said Miranda, noting that by next
year, financial conditions would be much better to be
reflected by earnings of at least P1 billion as a result of
the rehabilitation package outlined by Tan.

In 1999, PNB incurred P9 billion in net losses. In the
first semester, Miranda said that PNB suffered an
undisclosed amount of net losses which would be easily
reverted considering the P500 million it earned from the
recent sale of its 39.9- percent stake in Maybank.
The shares were bought by Malaysian investors for P1.4

Miranda also said that Tan is committed to bring down the
level of PNB's non-performing loans (NPL) to 25 percent end
of this year from about 35 percent recorded in the first
seven months.  In absolute terms, the latest NPL ratio,
which is one of the highest in the industry, is roughly
P31.5 billion of a total loan portfolio of approximately
P90 billion.

The significant improvement in NPLs would be facilitated
through a bigger loan disbursement using tighter criteria
and an enhanced collection on existing accounts of
individual and corporate borrowers, said Miranda.
He said that a loan growth of eight to 10 percent is
expected this year.

Miranda said that they are set to dispose of some P4
billion in real and other properties owned or acquired
(ROPOAs) this year of its aggregate P25 billion. Another P4
billion would be raised in 2001.  Moreover, enhanced
remittance operations would improve their income
performances-earnings from this is expected to move up by
at least 15 percent this year.

PNB intends to open three new remittance centers abroad
next year-in Virginia, San Francisco, and Toronto. It
currently has 79 remittance centers all over the world.
Government deposits worth about P38 billion as of April,
said Miranda would bolster the financial base of PNB.
PNB has P4-billon worth of loans to the national government
while local government units owe the bank some P3.5

Overall exposure in the form of loans and government
securities to the national government stood at P40 billion.
PNB was given up to 2003 to hold the government deposits.
Miranda also said that they plan to trim PNB's workforce
from 8,000 to around 6,000. A voluntary retirement program
is already being prepared.  (Manila Times  23-Aug-2000)

URBAN BANK: Petron deposits partially converted to shares
Petron Corp. has agreed to convert 10 % to 25% of its
deposits in Urban Bank and Urbancorp Investments, Inc.
(UII) into shares or quasi-equity in support of the
rehabilitation plan after its purchase by Bank of Commerce.

In addition to Petron, food and beverage giant San Miguel
Corp. and Manila Electric Co. agreed to the equity
conversion.  Petron chairman and chief executive officer
Jose A. Syjuco said they are still working out the details,
reaffirming its support of Urban Bank's rehabilitation

The plan calls for a combined 750 million Philippine pesos
($16.67 million at PhP44.992=$1) in deposits to be
converted into shares in Bancommerce. Urban Bank and UII
will be merged with Bancommerce. An additional capital
infusion by the Social Security System (SSS) will be made
amounting to PhP 600 million in equity. New owner
Bancommerce is putting in PhP 300 million to meet the
required PhP 1.65 billion needed to rehabilitate the bank.

Petron plans to focus its attention on its core business,
petroleum, in the near future. Meanwhile, Bancommerce is
also working on mergers with Traders Royal Bank (TRB),
owned by the Benedictos, and Panasia Banking Corp., under
the Tan Yu Group of companies.


ACROSSASIA: Cuts 20% of staff, refocusing on core business
SINGAPORE--AcrossAsia Multimedia Ltd, a unit of Indonesia's
Lippo Group, fired almost a fifth of the staff at its
Singapore-based content arm, the latest Asian Internet
start-up to cut employees to contain costs.

Cheng Cheng-wen, AcrossAsia CEO, said the company fired 20
of its 97 workers at Media Manager in Singapore last month.
The move, reported earlier by the South China Morning Post,
cuts monthly costs by HK$1.7 million (US$219,000), he said.
Internet companies based in Hong Kong have fired more than
275 people since mid-June, reflecting a global slide in
high-technology stocks and concern that many start-ups
weren't growing fast enough to justify high valuations on
their share price.

Among the largest reductions in Hong Kong, Renren Media Ltd
last week said it will fire 102 people, or 38 percent of
its staff. Controlleded by tycoon Li Ka-shing, Ltd.
said last month it would fire 80 people.  AcrossAsia, the
second-largest company by market value listed on Hong
Kong's Growth Enterprise Market, will now focus on "two or
three projects that have potential to generate revenue,"
said Ng Lak Chuan, the company's CFO.

The projects include broadcasting advertisements through
such channels as 7-Eleven stores and Caltex gas stations,
and developing educational Web portals in Singapore and
Indonesia.  Matei Mihalca, head of Internet research at
Merrill Lynch (Asia Pacific) Ltd, predicted there could be
more such cuts at Hong Kong's Internet companies.

"I think we'll definitely see more layoffs. As long as the
economic proposition is not really viable, they will have
to lay people off," Mihalca said.

AcrossAsia lost about a fifth of its value since it debuted
in mid-July compared with a 3.6 percent decline in the
HKGEM Index. Today, the shares fell 3.1 percent to HK$3.10.
(Cnet Singapore, Bloomberg  22-Aug-2000)


DATAMAT: Posts Q2 net loss
Datamat recorded a net loss of Bt112.1 million for the
second quarter of this year, compared with a net loss of
Bt120.1 million for the same period in 1999.

Krungdhon Hospital recorded a net loss of Bt2.1 million for
the second quarter of this year, compared with a net profit
of Bt1.7 million for the same period in 1999.

MANDARIN HOTEL: Plans to sell assets to pay debt
Mandarin Hotel will hold an extraordinary shareholders'
meeting on Sept 22. At the meeting, the company will
propose selling its Lake Point Apartment and Executive
Serviced Apartments Tower A and B, including all equipment
and accessories and a townhouse for at least Bt1 billion
to repay loans and for use as working capital.

SAFARI WORLD: Posts Q2 loss
Safari World Plc, caged in by 1.2 billion baht in
accumulated losses, posted a loss of Bt989 million in the
second quarter of this year, up from Bt271.1 million for
the same period last year.

The zoo and theme park operator's accumulated debts top two
billion baht. The launch of new entertainment magnets and
managerial cost-cutting would be instrumental in stopping
the company from bleeding away, Pin Kiewpaisal, the
company's founder, said yesterday.

Mr Pin said losses were nearly 10 million baht a month on
each of its two operations-Safari World zoo in Min Buri,
Bangkok, and a cultural theme park, Phuket FantaSea, in
Phuket. The attractions together earn 100 million baht a
month but expenses and interest on loans total 120 million

The company hopes to turn around its operations by the end
of this year, planning to reduce costs including salaries
for senior management and attract more visitors to its new
entertainment features.  Some 15 million baht has been
spent on building a stage and stand at Safari World for its
new show, the Circus Extravaganza from Two Continents,
featuring artists from Russia and the US.

Eight million baht has been spent on a giant model of a
tamarind tree. The company earlier projected that it would
have 1.2 million visitors to the zoo this year, up from
800,000 last year. With the new show, Mr Pin said, the
target should be exceeded by 400,000 people.

"With 1.6 million visitors to Safari World, we will manage
to stop bleeding. It might take 10 more years before we can
eliminate the accumulated losses," he said.

Since the recession started in 1997, the number of visitors
has dropped to about one million a year from 2.4 million.
Before the slump, about 80% of the visitors were Thais but
since 1997 the park has relied on foreigners for 90% of its
business. The company's debts accumulated rapidly after the
construction of Phuket Fantasea.

"That's our largest burden since we invested in it when the
baht was at 58 to the US dollar, lifting the cost to 3.3
billion baht from 2.2 billion baht originally projected,"
he said.

However, business had picked up recently with the number of
tourists visiting the Phuket attraction reaching between
2,000 and 3,000 a day, Mr Pin said. The company has
converted foreign loans to baht, with restructuring carried
out on 1.4 billion baht owed to Siam Commercial Bank Plc
and 800 million baht to Bank Thai Plc.

Turning to investment abroad, Mr Pin said that he had
recently discussed with the Malaysian government the
possibility of building a theme park in Langkawi.
"We haven't made a final decision yet since we want to be
conservative [in our planning]," Mr Pin said.

He said that the Malaysian government offered to provide
low-interest loans for the project. Another project in the
pipeline is a cultural park in Shanghai that would be
modelled loosely on Phuket FantaSea. The park is likely to
be located on a 70-rai downtown site leased for 60 years
from the Chinese government.

Mr Pin said the Shanghai project had strong potential to
attract a large number of tourists but he had to wait for
the final business plan before investing money. (Bangkok
Post  22-Aug-2000)

Siam General Factoring recorded a net loss of Bt159.6
million for the second quarter of this year, compared with
a net loss of Bt4.3 million for the same period in 1999.

SIAM UNITED STATES: Posts Q2 net loss
Siam United Services recorded a net loss of Bt22.1 million
for the second quarter of this year, compared with a net
loss of Bt7.5 million for the same period in 1999.

Southern Concrete Pile recorded a net loss of Bt26.7
million for the second quarter of this year, compared with
a net loss of Bt26.2 million for the same period in 1999.

THAI HEAT EXCHANGE: Posts Q2 net loss
Thai Heat Exchange recorded a net loss of Bt12 million for
the second quarter of this year, compared with a net loss
of Bt23.2 million for the same period in 1999.

TPI POLENE: To manage own plan
The Central Bankruptcy Court has appointed TPI Polene, the
cement-making subsidiary of Thai Petrochemical Industry Plc
(TPI), as its own planner under a business reorganization
plan filed with the court July 21.

The company soon will submit the proposed business
reorganization plan to its creditors for approval,
according to TPI Polene senior vice-president Orapin
Leophairatana. TPI Polene and its 75 creditors signed a
US$1.3 billion debt-restructuring deal July 20. The deal
contemplates raising as much as $270 million in new capital
in the fourth quarter of this year.

The capital is to be raised by a private placement. Of the
$270 million, about $180 million would be raised from
institutional investors to finance a buyback of TPI Polene
debt at a 50% discount. The buy-back is part of the debt-
restructuring plan, under which creditors would convert
about 10% of the company's total debt to equity.

The remaining $90 million would be used to finance a fourth
cement unit. When completed, the plant would raise the
company's total production capacity by three million tonnes
to 12 million.  (Bangkok Post  22-Aug-2000)

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

Troubled Company Reporter -- Asia Pacific is a daily
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Inc., Trenton, NJ USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Washington,
DC USA. Darryl Henning, Managing Editor, James Philip P.
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Copyright 2000.  All rights reserved.  ISSN: 1520-9482.

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