TCRAP_Public/001222.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

           Friday, December 22, 2000, Vol. 3, No. 249

                                          Headlines


* A U S T R A L I A *

AUCKLAND WARRIORS RUGBY LEAGUE:Creditors put in liquidation
LEND LEASE: Shares lose $1.5B in value on profit downgrade
ORICA LTD: Forecasts disappointing financial year


* C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G *

BOOK STATIONERY DEVEL.CO.LTD: Facing winding up petition
CHEUNG TAI HONG: Posts 1H loss
CHINA FLOURISH INT'L LTD: Facing winding up petition
CHUNG LI TOYS COMPONENT FACTORY: Facing winding up petition
CHUN TAI HOLDINGS: Debt-to-equity deal near
CHUN YEUNG INDUSTRIAL (HK)LTD: Facing winding up petition
CUDDLE WIT LTD: Facing winding up petition
EHEALTHCAREASIA: Posts 1H loss
ETERNAL BRIGHT ENTERPRISES: Facing winding up petition
HINET HOLDINGS LTD.: Posts HK$24.99M 1H loss
KG NEXT VISION: Posts HK$4.5M 1H net loss
NETALONG.COM: Posts HK$94.84M 1H loss
NEXT MEDIA: Faces HKEx reprimand
NEW WORLD CYBERBASE: Posts $119M 1H loss
TACK HSIN HOLDINGS: Posts 1H net loss of HK$18.3M
TIAJIN BOHAI CHEMICAL INDUS.: S'holders OK asset-swap plan
VITALITY 28: Fined 1M yuan for fraud


* J A P A N *

KOFUKU BANK: Court tells it to resume pension payments
NIIGATA CHUO BANK: To be sold to 6 regional banks
RBM CO.: 10 firms to take over 30 Esthe de Milord shops


* K O R E A *

CENTRAL BANKING CORP: Consolidated into one bank
H&S INVESTMENT BANK: Consolidated into one bank
iREGENT GROUP: Unit shareholder indicted
KOREA MERCHANT BANK: Consolidated into one bank
LG CHEMICAL: Shares fall by limit on trading error
YEUNGNAM MERCHANT: Consolidated into one bank


* M A L A Y S I A *

MAYBANK BANKING: Secures US$200 million re-fi loan
RENONG: To be debt free by May with complete asset sale


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

VICTORIAS MILLING CO.: London firm offers rehab help


* S I N G A P O R E *

FHTK HOLDINGS: Posts $18.8M first-half loss


* T H A I L A N D *

NAKORNTHAI STRIP MILLS: To resume operation in 6 months
THAI ELECTRONIC INDUS.: Creditors approve rehab plan


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

AUCKLAND WARRIORS RUGBY LEAGUE:Creditors put in liquidation
-----------------------------------------------------------
Creditors blew the final whistle on the Auckland Warriors
Rugby League Ltd last Thursday, putting into liquidation a
company whose debts are expected to reach $3 million.

The High Court at Auckland named boutique insolvency firm
McDonald Vague as liquidator on a petition by Show Travel,
owed around $40,000. Show Travel made the travel arrange-
ments for the team's away games. McDonald Vague partner
Leearna Waghorne has not yet compiled a full creditors'
list.

But from what The Independent can ascertain from other
industry contacts, Auckland Warriors Rugby League Ltd owes
$1.5 million to Auckland Rugby League Inc - the sport's
representative body, comprising 35 clubs - about $500,000
to the IRD for unpaid gst and fringe benefit tax, and
somewhere between $500,000 and $700,000 to its 14 former
staff. The status of the players' contracts is not clear
but sources say the Warriors' salaries were $3.2 million a
year.

Already in receivership, Auckland Warriors Rugby League Ltd
is the company that, in October 1998, sold the team for
$3.75 million to a company called Rugby League People. At
the time Auckland Warriors Rugby League Ltd was owned and
controlled by Auckland Rugby League Inc which is still owed
$1.5 million from the sale. Rugby League People, in turn,
sold two thirds of the Warriors to Tainui Group Holdings'
subsidiary, MDC Investments Holdings Ltd, and one third to
businessmen Malcolm Boyle and Graeme Lowe.

Boyle and Lowe were sacked from the board of Auckland
Warriors Rugby League Ltd in February this year and, in
June, quit as directors of Rugby League People. Then, in
October, in a sale apparently brokered by Ferrier Hodgson
partner and former Auckland Warriors Rugby League Ltd
director Michael Stiassny and Tainui's Kingi Porima, Tainui
Group Holdings sold the Warriors' assets - largely the
intellectual property associated with the team, plus
goodwill - to NZ Rugby League (the sport's parent body) for
$400,000. A new company called NZ Warriors Rugby League Ltd
was formed which then sold 75% of the assets to businessman
Eric Watson's Cullen Investments.

Controversy still surrounds this sale, with some parties
maintaining that two other prospective bidders were vying
with Watson for the Warriors, including one party, the Yes
Group, which was prepared to repay all creditors. Watson,
however, bought only the team's assets, not its debts. MDC
Investments Holdings Ltd, the investment arm of the
Tainui, is also in receivership and liquidation, with Jeff
Meltzer appointed as receiver and Anthony McCullagh as
liquidator.

Meltzer's office was also appointed receiver of Auckland
Warriors Rugby League Ltd on 9 October. Waghorne,
meanwhile, says her first move will be to schedule meetings
with McCullagh and Jeff Meltzer's office for background on
the various parties and often bitter disputes simmering
beneath the surface of the various Warriors-related
receiverships and liquidations.

"Creditors have raised concerns about various matters they
want investigated and they want answers to their
questions," she says.

There was a feeling of "conspiracy" surrounding some of the
parties, she said, that possibly resulted from "rumours
that have got out of control." A creditors' meeting will be
held, probably in late January. (Independent Business
Weekly 20-Dec-2000)

LEND LEASE: Shares lose $1.5B in value on profit downgrade
----------------------------------------------------------
Global blue-chip property group Lend Lease was hammered
yesterday after announcing a major profit downgrade of more
than $100 million.

Lend Lease shares lost almost $1.5 billion in value after
the company said its expected 2000/01 profit would range
between $210 million and $230 million - well down from most
analysts forecasts of about $340 million.  The prediction
compares to a $432.2 million profit last year to June 30.

Analysts were at a loss to explain the rapid deterioration
in earnings and investors voted with their feet, dumping
the stock from its opening price of $20.88.  Shares closed
16 per cent lower, down $3.42 to a nine-month low of $18.30
after 6.6 million shares changed hands.

Lend Lease sold its MLC funds management arm to National
Australia Bank in June for $4.56 billion, warning that its
financial position would not be known for 18 months. Angry
analysts, at an afternoon briefing yesterday, claimed Lend
Lease had done nothing to warn of hosed-down expectations.

However, Lend Lease executive Dick Morath said the profit
downgrade was not as big as many analysts had made out
because it had excluded asset sales in its forecasts. Lend
Lease CFO Robert Tsenin said its low-trading real estate
investments arm had accounted for up to $20 million of the
downgrade.

Lend Lease also warned of a $21 million provision for its
27 per cent stake in the Nasdaq-listed coolsavings.com
online discount shopping site.  Coolsavings shares were
trading at about $US1 compared to Lend Lease's $US2.59 a
share book value.  (The Advertiser 21-Dec-2000)

ORICA LTD: Forecasts disappointing financial year
-------------------------------------------------
Chemicals and explosive company Orica Ltd expects continued
profit growth for its four core business platforms, but
that results from its non-core businesses this financial
year would be disappointing.

Orica chairman Ben Lochtenberg said at the annual general
meeting in Sydney that Orica's Qenos joint venture with
Exxon Mobil had decided to permanently close non-economic
plants at Altona, Victoria.  Mr Lochtenberg said that would
require a write off of the residual value of those plants.
As well losses were being incurred at the Altona site as a
result of current strike action by some employees.

"In aggregate, we expect our share of the Qenos loss to be
approximately $10 million after tax."

Orica managing director Philip Weickhardt said the impact
of some of the negative influences on Orica's 2001
performance would be particularly obvious in its first-half
results compared to the previous corresponding period.

"The first half ending 31 March 2001 will contain some non
recurring write offs of the Qenos Altona plant, the impact
of the current strike, and will also show the strongest
variation to last year in terms of higher gas and energy
prices, and the impact of the competitive Queensland
amonium nitrate plant which was not experienced in this
period last year. Counterbalancing these negatives will be
the compensation from Syngenta in regard to termination of
the Crop Care agreement."

Mr Lochtenberg said the results at Australian Vinyl would
be better this year than last year but below earlier
expectations.  This was because of Australian Vinyl's
exposure to what was developing as a significant downturn
in the building and construction industry.

Mr Lochtenberg reiterated that Orica wanted to exit its non
core businesses but said the company was determined to do
so at a time which would achieve fair value. He also said
that a weaker dollar was on balance helpful to Orica.
Orica's net profit for the year to September 30, 2000, fell
39 percent to $113.7 million. (AAP 21-Dec-2000)


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

BOOK STATIONERY DEVEL.CO.LTD: Facing winding up petition
--------------------------------------------------------
The High Court of Hong Kong SAR, Court of First Instance
has scheduled a hearing on February 21, 2001, on the
petition of Law Pui Shan for the winding up of book
Stationery Development Company Limited. A notice of legal
appearance must be filed on or before February 20.

CHEUNG TAI HONG: Posts 1H loss
------------------------------
Diversified property developer Cheung Tai Hong recorded a
loss of HK$13.41 million for the six months ended Sept.30,
up 63.1 percent from a loss of HK$13.41M for the first half
last year.  The widening was due partly to the making a
provision for value diminution of the company's properties,
which rose to HK$7.34M from HK$4.06M the same period last
year.  Turnover was HK$23.52M compared with HK$25.87M
previously.  Loss per share was 0.7 HK cents.

CHINA FLOURISH INT'L LTD: Facing winding up petition
----------------------------------------------------
The High Court of Hong Kong SAR, Court of First Instance
has scheduled a hearing on December 27 on the petition of
The National Commercial Bank Limited for the winding up of
China Flourish International Limited. A notice of legal
appearance must be filed on or before December 26.

CHUNG LI TOYS COMPONENT FACTORY: Facing winding up petition
-----------------------------------------------------------
The High Court of Hong Kong SAR, Court of First Instance
has scheduled a hearing on February 6, 2001, on the
petition of The China & South Sea Bank Limited for the
winding up of Chung Li Toys Component Factory (HK) Limited.
A notice of legal appearance must be filed on or before
February 5.

CHUN TAI HOLDINGS: Debt-to-equity deal near
-------------------------------------------
Chun Tai Holdings Ltd., maker of consumer electronics and
toys, asked that its shares be suspended pending a
statement about a conversion of debt into shares of the
company. Chun Tai shares were last traded at 34 HK cents.

CHUN YEUNG INDUSTRIAL (HK)LTD: Facing winding up petition
---------------------------------------------------------
The High Court of Hong Kong SAR, Court of First Instance
has scheduled a hearing on January 17, 2001, on the
petition of Sin Hua Bank Limited for the winding up of Chun
Yeung Industrial (Hong Kong) Limited. A notice of legal
appearance must be filed on or before January 16.

CUDDLE WIT LTD: Facing winding up petition
------------------------------------------
The High Court of Hong Kong SAR, Court of First Instance
has scheduled a hearing on February 21, 2001, on the
petition of Cheung Kan Ho for the winding up of Cuddle Wit
Limited. A notice of legal appearance must be filed on or
before February 20.

EHEALTHCAREASIA: Posts 1H loss
------------------------------
Ehealthcareasia recorded a net loss of HK$42.52M for the
first half year ended Sept.30.  Loss per share was 3.3 HK
cents.  No dividend was declared.

ETERNAL BRIGHT ENTERPRISES: Facing winding up petition
------------------------------------------------------
The High Court of Hong Kong SAR, Court of First Instance
has scheduled a hearing on January 16, 2001, on the
petition of Sin Hua Bank Limited for the winding up of
Eternal Bright Enterprises Limited. A notice of legal
appearance must be filed on or before January 15.

HINET HOLDINGS LTD.: Posts HK$24.99M 1H loss
---------------------------------------------
HiNet Holdings Ltd., an investment holding company with
interests in restaurant operations and sporting goods
distribution, recorded a net loss of HK$24.99 million for
the six months ended Sept.30, up from a loss of HK$9.7
million for the same period a year earlier. Loss per share
was 0.6 HK cent, unchanged from a year before. Revenue
jumped 40.6 percent to HK$10.8 million, but no interim
dividend was proposed.

KG NEXT VISION: Posts HK$4.5M 1H net loss
-----------------------------------------
Construction company KG NextVision Company Ltd. recorded a
net loss of HK$4.5 million for the six months ended Sept.
30, a turnaround from a net profit of HK$2.6 million for
the same period a year earlier. Loss per share was 0.27 HK
cents compared with earnings per share of 0.64 HK cents for
the same period the year before. Revenue rose 2.6 percent
to HK$369.3 million. No interim dividend was proposed.

NETALONG.COM: Posts HK$94.84M 1H loss
-------------------------------------
Main-board listed netalone.com's recorded a net loss of
HK$94.84M for the six months ended Sept.30. That was over
11 times larger that the HK$8.06M loss it recorded for the
same period the prior year.  Turnover dropped 45 percent
from HK$51.01M to HK$27.88M.  The share price of the
electronic commerce enabler fell 47 percent in the past
three months to close at HK$21.8 cents yesterday.  The drop
was partly attributed to the calling-off of a proposed
merger with financial services and property group e2-
Capital.  William Lo, chairman and major shareholder of the
company, has been reducing his interest in the company.

NEXT MEDIA: Faces HKEx reprimand
--------------------------------
The failure of Next Media to disclose the details of an
agreement for the purchase of a property website from Igloo
Finance may lead to censure by the Hong Kong stock
exchange.

In March, the media company agreed to pay $31 million in
cash, print advertising, Internet advertising and content
for a 40 per cent stake in GoHome.com. But it did not
disclose that the agreement granted its wholly-owned unit,
Next Venture, an option to subscribe to shares in a company
being established to hold online assets of the company and
its subsidiaries.

"The stock exchange is looking into this omission and
reserves the right to pursue this matter further," Next
Media said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Next Media announced it had terminated its deal
with Igloo and GoHome.com, incurring a loss of $38.4
million, which it did not book into its interim result, it
said. It also transferred its 40 per cent stake of GoHome
to Igloo shareholder Patrick Lam on Tuesday.

For the eight months ended November 30, Igloo reported a
loss of $19.8 million. It had a net asset value of $12
million at the end of November. A spokeswoman for the stock
exchange said she could not comment on individual cases,
but companies which violated the listing rules could be
brought to the listing committee and could be subjected to
public censure.

Phone calls to Next Media were not returned. Next Media
reported a net loss of $43.4 million for the six months to
September this year, compared with a loss of $35.6 million
in the same period last year. (Hong Kong iMail 21-Dec-2000)

NEW WORLD CYBERBASE: Posts $119M 1H loss
----------------------------------------
New World Cyberbase, the e-commerce technology flagship of
property giant New World Development (0017), has posted a
net loss of $119 million for the six months ended September
30.

The loss compares with a loss of $15.85 million for the
same period last year. Turnover rose 51.4 per cent to $38
million.  The company said the increase in turnover was due
mainly to a substantial growth in revenues from its
technology related services.

The company recorded a 390 percent increase in technology
related services, which amounted to $18.9 million.
Technology related services and property investment
accounted equally for the company's turnover during the
interim period.  New World, however, reported an operating
loss of $64.6 million. This is compared with an operating
profit of $17.6 million for the same period last year.

The loss was mainly due to New World's expansion in China
through the acquisition of Jetco Technology in July. During
the period, the company disposed of its interests in
PowerPhone in a bid to minimise operating losses.  The
company has also made a provision of $101.9 million for
PowerPhone assets during the six months to September. In
addition, there was a gain on the disposal of shares in
Chinadotcom of $177.7 million. This gain represented a
return of 227 percent.

The company said it had reduced its property investment
portfolio by shifting its focus to technology development.
Property investment generated more than 84 per cent of the
company's turnover during the interim period. New World
Cyberbase managing director and chief executive officer
Yvette Ong said she would not rule out the possibility of
the company making further cuts in investment in non-core
businesses.

According to Ms Ong, the company would ``cut our investment
in the non-core businesses if they are not managed well''.
The counter yesterday closed down 3.16 per cent at $0.184.
(Hong Kong iMail 21-Dec-2000)

TACK HSIN HOLDINGS: Posts 1H net loss of HK$18.3M
-------------------------------------------------
Tack Hsin Holdings Ltd., operator of six Chinese
restaurants in Hong Kong, recorded a net loss of HK$18.3
million for the six months ended Sept.30, down from a
HK$35.4 million net loss for the same period a year
earlier. Loss per share was 6.09 HK cents compared with
11.78 HK cents for the same period the year before.
Revenue was up 1.8 percent to HK$185.9 million. The company
proposes to distribute bonus warrants on the basis of one
unit for every 5 shares.

TIAJIN BOHAI CHEMICAL INDUS.: S'holders OK asset-swap plan
----------------------------------------------------------
Shareholders of Tianjin Bohai Chemical Industry (Group) Co.
approved resolutions to swap its loss-making chemical
business for the Tianjin municipal government's profitable
sewage treatment and toll road operations. The deal is
valued at HK$1.3 billion, but the company said no cash
consideration was involved in the transaction.

Through the asset exchange, the company will be given the
priority to invest in the municipal environmental
protection projects as well as construction and planning
projects. As part of the deal, Tianjin Bohai changed its
name to Tianjin Capital Environmental Protection Ltd. to
reflect its new business profile.

VITALITY 28: Fined 1M yuan for fraud
------------------------------------
Vitality 28, a well-known detergent producer listed on the
Shanghai Stock Exchange, has been fined 1 million yuan
(US$120,000) for fabricating profits and committing other
acts of fraud, according to media reports.

Former chairman Lei Shizhong, and members of the board of
directors Yao Lin, Ai Bingcheng and Ding Chengrong were
fined and admonished for their roles in the fraud.
According to findings by the China Securities Regulatory
Commission, the company based in Shashi City of Hubei
Province, fabricated 16.68 million yuan (US$2.01 million)
in non-existent profit on its listing application.

In the three years after its listing, the company reported
a total of 211.24 million yuan (US$25.45 million) in false
profit. The regulators also found that the company had
sealed a deal with a German company for a detergent joint
venture before its listing, but it concealed this important
fact from its application documents.

In May 1996, the company pledged in its prospectus to
invest 145.2 million yuan (US$17.49 million) on three major
projects, but investigation by the regulators revealed that
all the proceeds from the initial public offering were
spent on other purposes.

The company was also accused of fabricating bank receipts
of up to 23.2 million yuan (US$2.80 million) in an
announcement in 1998. The company said the money was from
the State Asset Management Bureau of Jingzhou City for the
purchase of four million shares, but the money was not
actually paid until 1999. (China Daily 20-Dec-2000)


=========
J A P A N
=========

KOFUKU BANK: Court tells it to resume pension payments
------------------------------------------------------
Failed Kofuku Bank was ordered Wednesday to resume
corporate pension payments to 171 former employees and to
ensure the payments were provided for the rest of their
lives.

Presiding Judge Tetsuou Matsumoto said at the Osaka
District Court that the bank had been unreasonable to halt
the payments, which were made as part of a noncontributory
pension scheme.  He ruled that despite the bank's financial
failure, the pensions were an integral part of its
retirement-allowance package, which it is contractually
obliged to provide.

A group of 207 former employees, including 36 who will be
entitled to the pensions when they reach 60, had filed a
suit against the Osaka-based bank, demanding that the
payments be resumed.  It is the second time a court has
ruled that pensions are part of employees' retirement
allowances; the Nagoya District Court made a similar
decision in May 1991.

The bank is required by in-house regulations to provide
lifelong pension payments of between 15,000 yen and 40,000
yen a month, in addition to lump sums, to former employees
aged 60 or over who had worked for the bank for more than
20 years. The payments are funded solely by the bank.

Kofuku was declared insolvent in May last year. In July the
same year, the bank's administrator decided to pay about
600 retired employees a lump-sum equivalent to just three
months' pension.  The bank then halted the payments, saying
it no longer had the resources.

In their suit, the plaintiffs insisted they were entitled
to the payments because the pensions were part of the
bank's retirement allowances.  The bank, however, said the
former employees had not contributed to the pension fund,
and argued that the payments were made as a retirement
benefit.

Matsumoto recognized that the bank had been forced to cut
costs under the Financial Reconstruction Law, but said it
was not entitled to escape financial obligations it should
have met before it went bankrupt. (Yomiuri Shimbun 21-Dec-
2000)

NIIGATA CHUO BANK: To be sold to 6 regional banks
-------------------------------------------------
The Financial Reconstruction Commission (FRC) approved a
proposal by the state-appointed administrators of the
failed Niigata Chuo Bank to sell it to six regional banks,
FRC officials said.

The proposal calls for splitting up and selling the assets
and liabilities of the Niigata-based second-tier regional
bank to the six, they said. A formal announcement to this
effect will be made later in the day, the officials said.

The six banks, comprising both regional and second-tier
regional banks, include Daishi Bank based in Niigata and
Taiko Bank based in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, and Towa
Bank in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture. On Sept. 29, the FRC
announced it had agreed in principle to sell Niigata Chuo
to four banks, but negotiations bogged down over what
amount of Niigata Chuo's loan assets each of the four
should assume.

The Thursday agreement to split Niigata Chuo among six
banks paves the way for ending the prolonged search for
acquirers and allows regulators to shift their focus to
examining the responsibility of Niigata Chuo's former
management for its failure. In October 1999, the FRC
declared Niigata Chuo insolvent and placed it under
state control, sending in state-appointed administrators.

Niigata Chuo, with total assets of 1.24 trillion yen, was
squashed by huge loans. Its failure prompted the Bank of
Japan to provide it with unsecured loans so it could
reimburse depositors who had swarmed to the bank in panic.
Under the financial-system revival law, a bank that takes
over a failed peer acquires the peer's loan assets and
assumes a duty to refund its deposits on demand in exchange
for the government eliminating any negative net worth with
public funds.

The administrators that put forward the acquisition
proposal are the state-run Deposit Insurance Corp. (DIC),
as well as lawyer Shigeru Konno and certificate accountant
Koichi Matsumura. Niigata Chuo was the fifth provincial
bank to be declared insolvent by the FRC under the law
following Kokumin Bank, Kofuku Bank, Tokyo Sowa Bank and
Namihaya Bank.

With Thursday's deal, the FRC has found buyers for four of
the five failed banks. The remaining one is Tokyo Sowa
Bank, a Tokyo-based regional bank. Although the Asia
Recovery Fund -- a U.S. investment fund led by U.S.
financier Wilbur Ross -- concluded a preliminary accord to
take over the bank, the DIC canceled the deal last month
after the fund demanded that the DIC put up more public
funds for loan-loss provisions than had initially been
agreed to.  (Kyodo News  21-Dec-2000)

RBM CO.: 10 firms to take over 30 Esthe de Milord shops
-------------------------------------------------------
Ten beauty business operators are in the final negotiations
to take over about 30 of the 108 Esthe de Milord beauty
shops run by RBM Co., a beauty salon chain that went
bankrupt in October.

The ten companies include Tokyo-based Fuji Beauty, a high-
profile firm that operates Takano Yuri Beauty Clinic beauty
salons. A takeover deal is expected to be reached by the
end of this year.

At one time, eight beauty salon firms planned to form a
consortium to purchase all of the 108 Esthe de Milord
shops. Those talks ran into a roadblock over details of the
takeover. In light of the stalemate, two additional firms
joined the consortium to smooth the way for the takeover
process. Even with the takeover deal, over 70 Esthe de
Milord shops are marked for closure.


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

CENTRAL BANKING CORP: Consolidated into one bank
H&S INVESTMENT BANK: Consolidated into one bank
KOREA MERCHANT BANK: Consolidated into one bank
YEUNGNAM MERCHANT: Consolidated into one bank
------------------------------------------------
Hanaro Investment Bank, a state-owned merchant bank born
out of the consolidation of four insolvent institutions,
officially went in motion Wednesday. Clients of the four
collapsed merchant banks - H&S Investment Bank, Central
Banking Corp., Korea Merchant Bank and Yeungnam Merchant -
will be allowed to withdraw their deposits from the new
institution.

The assets and liabilities of the merchant banks were
frozen for three to five months when the Financial
Supervisory Commission suspended their operations due to
liquidity shortages. The FSC approved the establishment of
Hanaro Investment Bank Nov. 10 in line with its plan to
clean up the debt-laden merchant banking sector. (Korea
Herald 21-Dec-2000)

iREGENT GROUP: Unit shareholder indicted
----------------------------------------
South Korean prosecutors have indicted Jin Seong Hyun on
charges of illegal lending and violating securities
regulations in their investigation of local affiliates of
iRegent Group, Hong Kong's only listed fund management
firm.

Jin, the third-largest shareholder in iRegent Group's
Korean holding company, is accused of borrowing as much as
88 billion won (HK$528 million) from Regent Securities and
Regent Merchant Bank in return for helping raise the
brokerage firm's share price in late 1999, the Seoul
District Prosecutors' Office said.

He has been in custody for about three weeks along with CK
Koh, former head of Regent Securities, who has also been
questioned, prosecutor Lee Kyung Hoon told reporters.
Koh may also face similar charges, prosecutors said.
Korea's investigation into possible illegal activities in
the financial industry is aimed at bolstering transparency
and confidence among investors.

According to the custody warrant under which Koh is held,
prosecutors allege Jin and Mr Koh doubled Regent
Securities' stock price in October and November 1999,
trading 60 billion won worth of shares through 330
transactions.

Separately, Seoul prosecutors said they have twice tried
unsuccessfully to summon James Mellon, former chairman of
iRegent, to Korea for questioning. Mr Lee said prosecutors
now are looking into issuing an arrest warrant for Mr
Mellon, which means he could be taken into custody should
he go to Korea.

KoreaOnline, Regent's local holding company, issued a
statement saying it "is exercising all responsible pressure
upon Mr James Mellon to persuade him to return to Korea to
assist the Prosecution office in their inquiries." (Hong
Kong iMail 21-Dec-2000)

LG CHEMICAL: Shares fall by limit on trading error
--------------------------------------------------
LG Chemical Ltd. shares fell by their 15 percent daily
limit because of an error on a transaction between major
shareholders of South Korea's largest chemical producer,
Korea Economic Daily said.

The shares plunged to their limit minutes before
Wednesday's close when a unidentified securities company
failed to make an order to buy 500,000 of shares sold by
one of the company's leading shareholders, the newspaper
said, citing unidentified industry sources.

"A major shareholder of LG Chemical supposedly agreed to
sell his 500,000 stocks to another stockholder but due to
an error made by a securities company, only 250,000 shares
were picked up and caused the shares to plunge," an
unidentified securities official was quoted as saying.

LG Chemical, which has pared 75 percent of its value so far
this year, fell 1,700 won to finish at 9,750, the lowest in
more than two years. (Bloomberg, Korea Economic Daily 21-
Dec-2000)


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

MAYBANK BANKING: Secures US$200 million re-fi loan
--------------------------------------------------
Malayan Banking Bhd signed an agreement with 14 interna-
tional banks for a US$200 million (RM760 million) syndi-
cated loan to fund its US dollar assets and to refinance
its matured borrowings.

Maybank said in a press statement that the coordinating
arrangers for the syndication were Standard Chartered Bank
Ltd, Offshore Labuan and Sumitomo Bank Ltd, Labuan branch.
Maybank managing director Datuk Amirsham A Aziz said the
loan facility would enable the company to manage its US
dollar liquidity and funding requirements in line with its
business plan.

It would also enable the bank to refinance current
borrowings, which were mainly on shorter tenures in
anticipation of improvements in pricing, he said.

"We have been able to obtain this medium-term three year
facility at a more favourable pricing, which is over 100
basis points lower compared to a year ago," he said.
He added that it allowed Maybank to pass on the benefit to
its customers by offering more competitive rates. (The Edge
Daily 21-Dec-2000)

RENONG: To be debt free by May with complete asset sale
-------------------------------------------------------
Renong, the country's biggest industrial group, says it
expects to complete by May the sale of its key assets to
United Engineers Malaysia for US$1.43 billion. Under a plan
unveiled last month, UEM will buy most of Renong's assets,
including Renong's stake in Time Engineering, Faber Group
and Commerce Asset-Holdings.

At Renong's annual shareholders' meeting, Renong chairman
Halim Saad said that the sale should be completed by in
four to five months, subject to authorities' approval.
Mr Halim said that the sale will make Renong debt-free, and
leave it with cash of RM 400 million, and assets of RM700
million.

Renong is struggling to repay debt of more than RM20
billion. The plan is expected to strengthen Renong chairman
Halim Saad's hold over Renong and UEM, at the expense of
minority shareholders. Investors are not taking kindly to
the plan. Renong shares have fallen 29 percent since the
plan was unveiled on November 22.

UEM shares also battered, down 45 percent, as investors see
the asset sale as a bail-out for Renong. (Channel News Asia
20-Dec-2000)


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

VICTORIAS MILLING CO.: London firm offers rehab help
----------------------------------------------------
A foreign fund has proposed to assist in the rehabilitation
of Victorias Milling Co. Inc. through a $153-million loan
for the refinancing of the ailing sugar producer's debts.

In documents filed with the Securities and Exchange
Commission, VMC said that under the proposal of London-
based Kest Quartermain Venture Capital Partners Ltd.,
General Electric Corp. or GE Capital would provide the
loan. The loan proceeds would cover for the payment of the
principal debt amounting to P6.555 billion and accrued
interest of P1.376 billion as of end-April this year.

Under the proposal, VMC chief financial officer Romeo
Hermoso said, VMC's creditor bank would be paid 100 percent
of the loan principal and 100 percent of accrued interest
on Day 1. The beneficiary banks, in turn, would issue
standby letters-of-credit equivalent to 108.5 percent of
total debt paid in favor of GE Capital.

The banks' contingent liability for the SBLC would be
secured by the sinking fund to be provided by VMC and
Mortgage Trust Indenture on all the assets of VMC. The
sinking fund will be built up from the publicly listed
company's cash flows and or KQVCPL's commitment to
subscribe to a P4.1-billion rights offering at the end of
the tenth year.

KQVCPL would receive a 50-percent discount on the principal
and accrued interest, payable in equal installments over a
seven-year period. The discount will be taken up as a fee
rather than a one-time charge up front. Hermoso said KQVCPL
was also committed to create a banking or lending institu-
tion that would provide banking services to the sugar
industry business related to VMC and extend financial
assistance for land acquisition and farm inputs to small-
holder farmers under government's comprehensive agricul-
tural reform program.

"The KQVCPL assistance will relieve the Company of its
substantial debt burden; as a result of which, the company
will be able to resume its normal operations. In the
process, it will enable the company to be globally
competitive at the level of at least Thailand in the near
term," Hermoso said.

He noted that the assistance will enhance VMC's programs
involving improved farm productivity, increase and
propagation of high-yielding varieties and the foreign
exchange inflow arising from the proposed transaction would
boost the country's balance of payments.

Earlier this month, the SEC chose to approve the
alternative rehabilitation plan proposed by VMC's
management committee, composed of clean creditors, over the
plan filed by VMC management led by VMC president Manuel
Manalac. Under the approved alternative plan, the sugar
producer's current debt level of over P5 billion would be
reduced by converting P1.1 billion of unsecured creditors
debt into equity and converting P2.4 billion in debt into
convertible notes.

The plan also called for the infusion of P300 million
either in the form of loans or advances or equity to reduce
VMC's manpower. (Philippine Daily Inquirer 21-Dec-2000)


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

FHTK HOLDINGS: Posts $18.8M first-half loss
-------------------------------------------
Fruit and vegetable distributor FHTK Holdings recorded a
net loss of $18.8 million for the six months ended Sept.
30, down from a $26.2 million loss for the same period the
previous year. Group turnover increased 32 percent to $68.2
million for the period due to a surge in sales for all core
produce.

Despite the increased turnover, the company's gross margin
fell from the previous period due to higher procurement
costs. Operating losses before interest and depreciation
dipped by 48 percent to $4.8 million as a result of a drop
in the provision for doubtful debts. Interest on borrowings
rose 10 percent to $7.4 million.

The company also reduced its foreign-exchange loss by 77
per cent to $977,000. Loss per share was reduced to 2.85
cents from 3.98 cents for the prior year's first half,
while net tangible assets per share improved from 5.56
cents to 5.76 cents.

Meanwhile, FHTK said it had concluded negotiations with its
bank creditors to restructure its debt through a debt-to-
equity conversion to clear the group's $177 million debt to
its bank creditors. It will allow FHTK to "start off on a
clean slate and carry on normal business operations without
a substantial interest-servicing burden."

Looking ahead, FHTK expects its full-year performance to
improve over the previous year. No dividend was
recommended.  (Straits Times 17-Dec-2000)


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

NAKORNTHAI STRIP MILLS: To resume operation in 6 months
-------------------------------------------------------
NakorNThai Strip Mills (NSM) plans to resume operation of
its hot rolled steel plant in Rayong in six months after a
closure of over two years.  The company said it expected to
have its US$839 million debt restructuring plan wrapped up
by that time.

The Rayong plant, with a capacity of 1.5 million tonnes a
year, has been closed because of lack of cash flow and
local market over-supply in late 1998.  NSM is now working
on the debt plan which includes conversion of $600 million
debt to equity and extension of repayment for over ten
years.

As a result of the planned debt restructuring, the
Industrial Finance Corporation of Thailand (IFCT) will take
a stake of over 90 percent in the company, with the
remaining 10 percent spread among the existing owners
including Sawasdi Horrungreung who will be left with a 3
percent stake.  The debt plan also calls for the addition
of a new strategic partner who would be willing to inject
roughly $100 million, enough to start hot rolled steel
production.

The company said the potential strategic partners include
steel companies from the US and Germany.  Excluding NSM,
there are two hot rolled steel producers in the country -
Sahaviriya Steel Industry and Siam Strip Mills.  The three
producers have recently talked of merging their operations
to cut production costs and eliminate competition among
themselves.

They have also planned to invest about 10 billion baht in
an upstream steel company to supply their own raw
materials.  Sawasdi said steel companies in Thailand are
currently competing heavily and their merger may help boost
finance and production.

The merger will reduce raw material and production costs,
and marketing can be coordinated with more efficiency, said
Sawasdi.  However, he said the steel companies would have
to discuss the merger plan with the Commerce Ministry which
is concerned with business monopolies and whether the plan
is against Thai anti-competition laws. (Business Day 21-
Dec-2000)

THAI ELECTRONIC INDUS.: Creditors approve rehab plan
----------------------------------------------------
Thai Electronic Industry Public Company Limited has
reported to the Stock Exchange of Thailand that its
creditors held a meeting Wednesday to consider the
rehabilitation plan of the company. Creditors representing
60.99% of the outstanding debt accepted the plan as revised
by the firm's planner.

Creditors at the meeting resolved to appoint a creditor
committee comprised of three of them -- Industrial Finance
Corporation of Thailand, Datapro Computer Systems Company
Limited  and  Premier Enterprise Public Company Limited --
to monitor implementation of the plan. The Central
Bankruptcy Court has set Dec. 26 at 1:30 p.m. for
consideration of the plan.


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