TCRAP_Public/980402.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 2, 1998, Vol. 1, No. 31

                    Headlines


C H I N A   &   H O N G   K O N G

BANK OF CHINA: Plans to Cut Workforce by Half
BEIJING AIRPORT: Overseas Investment Sought
CHINA DEVELOPMENT: 1997 Operating Results
CONTINENTAL HOLDINGS: 1997 Operating Results
LEADING SPIRIT: 1997 Operating Results
LION ASIA: 1997 Operating Results
MANDARIN RESOURCES: 1997 Operating Results
MUI HONG: 1997 Operating Results
OPTIMISE SUCCESS: Unsuccessful in Obtaining Funds
WANON INTERNATIONAL: 1997 Operating Results
YOAHAN INTERNATIONAL: In Rescue Talks with Bankers


J A P A N  

THE BANK OF TOKYO-MITSUBISHI: Industry's Record Write-Offs
DAIICHI CORP: Japanese Lender To Collapse
FUJI BANK: Posts Record Write-Offs
HITACHI CONSTRUCTION: Takeover of Indon Business Partner
SAKURA BANK: Posts Record Write-Offs
SANWA BANK: Restructuring Plan Includes Holding Company
SHOWA LINE: To Merge with Nippon Yusen KK
SUMITOMO BANK: Posts Record Write-Offs


K O R E A

DEALIM INDUSTRIAL: Sells Stake in LG-Caltex Oil
HYUNDAI ELECTRONICS: Floats $50 Million CBs
HYUNDAI MOTOR: Downgraded by Moody's
KIA MOTORS: Seeks to Sell Unit to Japanese Group
KIA MOTORS: Signs Contract with Iran Automaker
SHINHO GROUP: To Sell Stake to Norwegian Group


M A L A Y S I A

ORIENTAL FINANCE: Takeover by Parent Group
ROASTERS CORP: Berjaya Unit Files US Bankruptcy Protection
WEMBLEY INDUSTRIES: Bank Appoints Receivers


P H I L I P P I N E S

EASTERN TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Government to Retry Bidding
NAPOCOR: Planning $95 Million Rate Rise
PILIPINAS HINO: Retrenchment Reflects Auto Market Slump


S I N G A P O R E

LUM CHANG: Profits Plunge
MANUFACTURERS INVESTMENT: Operations Shut Down
NOBLE GROUP: Net Earnings Plunge
SAHAVIRIYA STEEL: To Raise Capital



C H I N A   &   H O N G   K O N G

BANK OF CHINA: Plans to Cut Workforce by Half
---------------------------------------------
Bank of China, one of the country's big state-owned banks,
will shed more than 100,000 employees as it halves its
workforce to improve efficiency.

Wang Xuebing, BOC president, said Asia's financial crisis
had taught China's banks "the important thing is quality,
efficiency and profitability. It does not matter how big
you are."

However, Mr Wang cautioned that the reform of China's state
banking sector would be a "medium-term" project, suggesting
that changing the culture of management and finding new
jobs for former bank employees would take time.
(Financial Times 01-Apr-1998)


BEIJING AIRPORT: Overseas Investment Sought
-------------------------------------------
Beijing has paved the way for foreign investors to take
part in a 100 billion yuan (about HK$93 billion) expansion
and modernisation programme for the mainland's airports,
the first time such access has been granted. The move opens
another sector of the economy to overseas investors, who  
will be able to participate in the construction and
management of airports at provincial capitals and
municipalities, according to Xinhua news agency.

Xia Xinghua, director of the department of system  
restructuring and regulation under the Civil Aviation
Administration of China (CAAC), said the biggest airports
would be listed on domestic stock markets. He said the
Beijing Capital International Airport would be restructured
for an overseas flotation, while other airports would be
turned into shareholding firms to attract outside
investors. The move means foreign investors would be
allowed to participate in high-level airport management and
invest in more airport-related sectors, Mr Xia said. The
central government had until now banned foreign
participation in airport operation due to their sensitive
nature, with many airports partly controlled by mainland
air forces.

New World Infrastructure (NWI) would become the first
foreign investor to co-manage a mainland airport, having
agreed to commit 350 million yuan for an undisclosed
minority stake in the Tianhe airport, Wuhan, four years
ago, CAAC and NWI officials said. Xinhua said the
mainland's airports were mired in debt, as they were mostly  
financed by bank loans.
(South China Morning Post 31-Mar-1998)


CHINA DEVELOPMENT: 1997 Operating Results
-----------------------------------------
China Development Corporation Limited reported a net loss
of $184 million on turnover of HK$460 million for the
period from January 7, 1997 through December 31, 1997.  
This compares to a net profit of HK$4 million on turnover
of $356 million for the corresponding 1996 period. (SEHK
30-Mar-1998)


CONTINENTAL HOLDINGS: 1997 Operating Results
--------------------------------------------
For the period from January 7, 1997 through December 31,
1997, Continental Holdings Limited reported a net loss of
HK$8 million on turnover of HK$286.2 million.  This
compares to a net profit of HK$20.5 million on turnover of
HK$312.9 million for the corresponding 1996 period. (SEHK
30-Mar-1998)


LEADING SPIRIT: 1997 Operating Results
--------------------------------------
For the period from January 7, 1997 through December 31,
1997, Leading Spirit (Holdings) Company Limited reported a
net loss of HK$278 million on turnover of HK$2.2 billion.  
This compares to an HK$180 million profit on turnover of
HK$1.6 billion for the corresponding 1996 period. (SEHK 30-
Mar-1998)


LION ASIA: 1997 Operating Results
---------------------------------
Lion Asia Limited announced its year-end operating results
this week, reporting a loss of HK$24 million on turnover of
HK$162 million for the period from January 7, 1997 through
December 31, 1997.  This compares to a net profit of HK$21
million on turnover of HK$85 million for the corresponding
1996 period. (SEHK 30-Mar-1998)


MANDARIN RESOURCES: 1997 Operating Results
------------------------------------------
The Joint Provisional Liquidators of Mandarin Resources
Corporation report a net loss of HK$4 million on turnover
of HK$222 million for the period from January 7, 1997
through December 31, 1997. (SEHK 30-Mar-1998)


MUI HONG: 1997 Operating Results
--------------------------------
For the period from January 7, 1997 through December 31,
1997, MUI Hong Kong Limited reports a net loss of HK$16
million on turnover of HK$1.6 billion.  This compares to a
net of HK$9 million on turnover of HK$1.1 billion for the
corresponding 1996 period. (SEHK 30-Mar-1998)


OPTIMISE SUCCESS: Unsuccessful in Obtaining Funds
-------------------------------------------------
On 19th June 1997, YGM Trading Limited announced the
entering into an agreement (the "Agreement") by its wholly
owned subsidiary with Optimise Success Properties Limited
relating to the sale of various Hong Kong properties at a
price of HK$208,000,000.  

Optimize paid YGM HK$41,600,000 as deposits.  Completion of
the sale of the properties was due to take place on 25th
March 1998.  YGM says that Optimize has failed to complete
the purchase, and has issued a notice of rescission of the
Agreement and forfeiture of deposits.

The properties are known as Shops G27, G28 on the Ground
Floor and Shop No. 14 on the First Floor of Site "D" of
"Park Lane Shopper's Boulevard", Nos. 111-139, 143-161 and
165-181 Nathan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong.  The consideration
for the sale of the Property was HK$208,000,000 in cash in
respect of which deposits aggregating HK$41,600,000 were
paid by the Purchaser to the Vendor and the balance of
HK$166,400,000 was due in cash on completion of the
Agreement.  Under the terms of the Agreement, completion
was to take place on or before 5:00 p.m. on 25th March
1998. (SEHK 30-Mar-1998)


WANON INTERNATIONAL: 1997 Operating Results
-------------------------------------------
For the period from January 7, 1997 through December 31,
1997, Wanon International Holdings Limited reported a net
loss of HK$11 million on turnover of HK$28 million.  This
compares to a net profit of HK$1.5 million on turnover of
HK$63 million for the corresponding 1996 period. (SEHK 30-
Mar-1998)


YOAHAN INTERNATIONAL: In Rescue Talks with Bankers
--------------------------------------------------
Yaohan International Holdings, the Hong Kong arm of the
collapsed Japanese retailing group, yesterday warned it was
facing serious financial difficulty and was in rescue talks
with bankers and potential investors.

"The groups financial position may further deteriorate and
if no new capital is injected, then the company may be
forced into liquidation," it said. It added that
information concerning the use of corporate funds by former
staff had been passed to Hong Kong's commercial crime
bureau for investigation.

Shares in the retailing, department store and property
company plunged 75 percent after the resumption of trading
yesterday. The shares had been suspended since last
September, when Yaohan Japan, the flagship of Kazuo Wada's
retailing empire, collapsed with debts of Y161.3bn
($1.2bn).

Yaohan Hong Long, the retailing arm of Yaohan
International, filed for liquidation in November last year,
forcing the closure of Yaohan department stores in the
territory. Stakes in the group's catering and entertainment
subsidiaries have also been sold to raise funds and ensure
the survival of the Hong Kong operations.

Yoahan International yesterday said it had total bank
borrowings of HK$431m (US$55.6m) and a net asset deficit of
HK$41.7m at the end of September last year. Since late
1997, the company added, it had received writs from
creditors claiming about HK$71m.
(Financial Times 01-Apr-1998)


J A P A N  

THE BANK OF TOKYO-MITSUBISHI: Industry's Record Write-Offs
----------------------------------------------------------
Japan 's top 19 banks are to write off 10 trillion  yen (75
billion dollars) in bad loans in the year to March 1998, a
business daily said Wednesday. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun
said the planned write-off, a record amount, was made
possible due to the injection of 1.42 trillion yen of
public money into 17 banks, which was approved by the
Japanese cabinet on March 17. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi
Ltd., the world's largest bank, will write-off 1.35
trillion yen in bad loans, with Sakura Bank to write off
1.2 trillion yen, according to the business daily. Fuji
Bank Ltd. will write off one trillion yen, and Sumitomo
Bank Ltd. is to dispose of 950 billion yen. With the write-
off, the nine city banks would go into the red for the
fiscal year ending March, the daily said.
(Agence France-Presse 01-Apr-1998)


DAIICHI CORP: Japanese Lender To Collapse
-----------------------------------------
Daiichi Corp., the Tokyo-based finance company saddled with  
$3.3 billion in debt, has decided to shut down, a leading
financial daily said Wednesday. The real estate lender,
which has suffered from the decline in Japanese property
prices, decided to close after its lender banks cut off
financial support, the Nihon Keizai newspaper said. The
company refused to comment.

Daiichi would be the latest in a wave of bankruptcies since
the bursting of Japan 's speculative real estate price
bubble in 1992. The long slide in land prices, which have
yet to recover, has weakened Japan's once formidable banks
by burdening them with billions of dollars in soured loans.   
Forced to cut back on new lending in order to rebuild their
cash reserves, Mitsui Trust & Banking Co. and three other
trust banks concluded they could no longer extend special
interest-free loans to Daiichi, the national Yomiuri  
newspaper said.

Those loans had helped Daiichi announce three separate  
restructuring plans since the land market's collapse. The  
bankruptcy would be the fifth-largest ever by a Japanese  
loan company, the Nihon Keizai said.
(AP Online 31-Mar-1998)


FUJI BANK: Posts Record Write-Offs
----------------------------------
Japan 's top 19 banks are to write off 10 trillion  yen (75
billion dollars) in bad loans in the year to March 1998, a
business daily said Wednesday. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun
said the planned write-off, a record amount, was made
possible due to the injection of 1.42 trillion yen of
public money into 17 banks, which was approved by the
Japanese cabinet on March 17. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi
Ltd., the world's largest bank, will write-off 1.35
trillion yen in bad loans, with Sakura Bank to write off
1.2 trillion yen, according to the business daily. Fuji
Bank Ltd. will write off one trillion yen, and Sumitomo
Bank Ltd. is to dispose of 950 billion yen. With the write-
off, the nine city banks would go into the red for the
fiscal year ending March, the daily said.
(Agence France-Presse 01-Apr-1998)


HITACHI CONSTRUCTION: Takeover of Indon Business Partner
--------------------------------------------------------
Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd is to take over all
shares of its local business partner, PT Hitachi
Construction Machinery Indonesia (HCMI). The take-over of
all shares is being conducted to save the company from
bankruptcy following the economic crisis which has affected
Indonesia since July 1997.

PT HCMI is a joint-venture company between Hitachi
Construction Machinery Co Ltd and Itochu Corporation (both
are from Japan) and PT Murinda Iron Steel, PT Hexindo
Adiperkasa and PT Anggaputra Dhananjaya from Indonesia.
Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd holds more than 50  
per cent of shares, followed by Itochu Corporation and its
local business partner. With the acquisition, PT HCMI
becomes the first heavy equipment company in Indonesia
which is acquired by its principal and it becomes a pure
(100 per cent) Foreign Capital Investment(PMA) company.
Since January 1998 PT HCMI has stopped production of
hydraulic excavator and has transferred the production
facility to manufacture heavy equipment components.

PT HCMI's Director, Gunawan Setiadi, said production had  
been stopped because of a drop in local market demand for
heavy equipment by 80 per cent resulting from the monetary  
crisis.
(Asia Pulse 01-Apr-1998)


SAKURA BANK: Posts Record Write-Offs
------------------------------------
Japan 's top 19 banks are to write off 10 trillion  yen (75
billion dollars) in bad loans in the year to March 1998, a
business daily said Wednesday. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun
said the planned write-off, a record amount, was made
possible due to the injection of 1.42 trillion yen of
public money into 17 banks, which was approved by the
Japanese cabinet on March 17. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi
Ltd., the world's largest bank, will write-off 1.35
trillion yen in bad loans, with Sakura Bank to write off
1.2 trillion yen, according to the business daily. Fuji
Bank Ltd. will write off one trillion yen, and Sumitomo
Bank Ltd. is to dispose of 950 billion yen. With the write-
off, the nine city banks would go into the red for the
fiscal year ending March, the daily said.
(Agence France-Presse 01-Apr-1998)


SANWA BANK: Restructuring Plan Includes Holding Company
-------------------------------------------------------
Sanwa Bank plans in March 2000 to divide into four
entities, one of which will become a holding company to
control the other three sections as subsidiaries, bank
sources said Tuesday. The move is part of an effort to
concentrate the bank's resources on areas where it can do
best. By doing so, Sanwa hopes to ensure its survival amid
the increased competition arising from the Japanese version
of the Big Bang set of financial reforms, the sources told
The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Although some other financial institutions are considering
similar schemes, Sanwa is the first major commercial bank
to formulate a timetable for its restructuring around a
holding company. A holding company is a corporate entity
that controls other companies through its possession of
their stocks, and earns its profits largely through the
dividends paid on those stocks.

The Diet in December approved a bill to end a 50-year ban
on the establishment of holding companies. Laws prohibiting
holding companies were enacted in the wake of World War II
to prevent the reemergence of prewar zaibatsu business
combines.

According to the sources, Sanwa's plan calls for dividing
the bank into four sections, each with one area of
responsibility: individual customers; corporate clients;
investment banking; and personnel and general affairs, as
well as other miscellaneous duties. Sanwa's plan stipulates
that a division in the fourth category be made into a
holding company that will operate the three other sections
as separate corporate entities under its umbrella.

To initiate its radical reform, Sanwa on Wednesday will
integrate its international and capital market headquarters
into a body charged with both functions. According to the
sources, the planned holding company will take over such
current Sanwa Bank functions as the personnel, general
affairs and secretarial sections. It will also take over
the bank's risk-management division and a department set up
to maintain the ethical integrity of employees following a
series of entertainment-for-favor scandals last year.
To pave the way for its plan, Sanwa will seek to streamline
its operations. Measures will include the closure of 40
branches, representing about 10 percent of its total
domestic banking business. In addition, the bank wants to
write off loans extended to foreign markets by about 700
billion yen, or 10 percent of its overseas lending, the
sources said.
(Yomiuri Shimbun 01-Apr-1998)


SHOWA LINE: To Merge with Nippon Yusen KK
-----------------------------------------
Nippon Yusen KK and Showa Line Ltd. have announced plans to
merge on Oct. 1 of this year in a move designed to rescue
the latter firm from the brink of insolvency. The merger is
contingent on a 50% reduction in Showa 's capital and
financial institutions forgiving about 23 billion yen in
debt. Showa's share price dropped to 36 yen at the end of
last year, a level below even its par value. Though it
underwent a modest rebound later on, rumors of impending
crisis resurfaced in March. Shipping industry analysts were
encouraged by reports around the middle of the month that
Fuji Bank had promised to help the company. The merger
announcement thus came as a surprise to many.

When President Seiki Fushimi took office, Showa was in dire  
need of restructuring. Fushimi negotiated directly with
trade union leaders and refocused resources on the
company's main operations. His efforts led to predictions
that the company would move into the black in fiscal 1997.
The improved short-term outlook did little to boost the  
stock price, however, and with the shares still trading
below par, Fushimi approached Nippon Yusen President
Kentaro Kawamura with a merger proposal.

Though the two companies began offering joint container  
service in 1969, Showa withdrew from the alliance in
1988, selling its container ships and equipment to Nippon
Yusen. Links between the firms have been minimal ever
since. The merger is attractive from Nippon Yusen's point
of view for a number of reasons. First, the company still
plays second fiddle to rival Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. in
terms of liner services. Indeed, even though it joined a
consortium of foreign shippers in 1996, Mitsui O.S.K. had
made a similar move the previous year. The bigger
attraction, however, is Showa's strength in the profitable
business of energy resource transportation.

And with aggregate liner operation losses at Nippon Yusen,  
Mitsui O.S.K. and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. standing at
some 30 billion yen in fiscal 1996, Nippon Yusen views
Showa's managerial capabilities as a plus when it comes to
bolstering business in that segment.

There is a downside to the merger, of course, and it comes  
in the form of Showa's accumulated loss of 54 billion yen.
It was Nippon Yusen that asked for a 50% reduction in
Showa's capital and the waiver of 23 billion yen in
obligations to financial institutions. Other barriers to
the merger include the need for further  restructuring and
possible shareholder opposition to the capital reduction.
If these obstacles cannot be cleared, says Fushimi, merger
negotiations may have to begin again from square one.
(Asia Pulse 31-Mar-1998)


SUMITOMO BANK: Posts Record Write-Offs
--------------------------------------
Japan 's top 19 banks are to write off 10 trillion  yen (75
billion dollars) in bad loans in the year to March 1998, a
business daily said Wednesday. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun
said the planned write-off, a record amount, was made
possible due to the injection of 1.42 trillion yen of
public money into 17 banks, which was approved by the
Japanese cabinet on March 17. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi
Ltd., the world's largest bank, will write-off 1.35
trillion yen in bad loans, with Sakura Bank to write off
1.2 trillion yen, according to the business daily. Fuji
Bank Ltd. will write off one trillion yen, and Sumitomo
Bank Ltd. is to dispose of 950 billion yen. With the write-
off, the nine city banks would go into the red for the
fiscal year ending March, the daily said.
(Agence France-Presse 01-Apr-1998)


K O R E A

DEALIM INDUSTRIAL: Sells Stake in LG-Caltex Oil
-----------------------------------------------
South Korea's Daelim Industrial Co. said Tuesday that it
signed an agreement with LG Group to sell off its 17.28-
percent stake in LG-Caltex Oil Corp. to the Korean business
group. Daelim offered its entire stock in the oil refinery
at 62,654 won per share. The deal was valued at 281.4
billion won (US$204 million). Meanwhile, Daelim Chairman
Lee Jun-yong made a different contract with LG on selling
off his own interest in LG-Caltex, worth 27.6 billion won,
to the group.

Lee will donate earnings from the deal to Daelim. The  
transfer of Daelim's stake in the oil refinery to LG
was part of efforts to restructure itself, and the firm
plans to use the proceeds from the deal to bolster its
financial standing, a Daelim official said.
(Asia Pulse 31-Mar-1998)


HYUNDAI ELECTRONICS: Floats $50 Million CBs
-------------------------------------------
South Korea's Hyundai Electronic Industries Co. said
Wednesday that it has floated US$50-million convertible
bonds (CBs) overseas. The six-year credit, co-lead managed
by the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) and Hyundai
Securities, is to carry a coupon of 0.5 percent per annum
and have a conversion premium of 10 percent.
(Asia Pulse 01-Apr-1998)


HYUNDAI MOTOR: Downgraded by Moody's
------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service downgraded debt ratings of South
Korea's largest automaker Hyundai Motor to Ba3 from Ba1.
Moody's rating action is in response to the anticipated
weakening in Hyundai's debt protection amid a severe
downturn in the domestic auto market.
(Asia Pulse 31-Mar-1998)


KIA MOTORS: Seeks to Sell Unit to Japanese Group
------------------------------------------------
The financially troubled Kia Group is seeking to sell Kia
Special Steel to Japanese steelmakers in a bid to help its
flagship Kia Motors back on its own feet.

"We have been in talks with several Japanese steelmakers on  
the sale of Kia Special Steel, although we cannot name the  
Japanese companies at the request of the Japanese side," a  
high-level Kia source said. "The interest shown by Japanese
makers is considerably high," he said.

Kia also plans to launch sales negotiations with local  
companies including Hyundai and Daewoo and has notified the  
Pohang Iron & Steel Co. of its plan. If talks with POSCO it
a snag, Kia would turn to Hyundai and Daewoo, sources said.
In a related development, the Kia Group has stepped up  
negotiations with Swedish heavy truck maker Scania on sales
of its commercial vehicle unit, Asia Motors.

A Kia negotiating team, including Lee Jong-dae, president  
of the Kia Economic Institute, and Chung Tae-seung, senior  
executive director of Kia Motors Corp., has been in Hong
Kong for a detailed briefing session with Scania officials  
concerning the sale of Asia Motors. Kia is pushing to sell
it all in a package including Asia Motors commercial and
jeep production lines and a plant site, but Scania is known
to be interested in only the heavy truck line. As for its
light commercial vehicle production line, Asia Motors'
Brazilian joint-venture partner AMB has been in contact
with Kia to acquire it as part of its light commercial  
vehicle project now under way.

Kia Motors is laden with a debt payment guarantee amounting  
to 870 billion won for Asia motors and a 700 billion won  
payment guarantee for Kia Special Steel. If the proposed
sales are realised, that will heighten the possibility that
Kia Motors can revive itself, sources said.
(Asia Pulse 01-Apr-1998)


KIA MOTORS: Signs Contract with Iran Automaker
----------------------------------------------
South Korea's Kia Motors Corp. signed a contract with
Iran's state-invested automaker Saipa Corp. to ship 320,000
units of its compact Pride cars between this year and 2000,
a company spokesman said Wednesday. Kia will supply 70,000
Prides in knockdown form this year, 100,000 units in 1999,
and another 150,000 in 2000. Saipa, which has been
assembling Kia's Prides since 1993, saw elevated orders due
to their continuous popularity in the Middle Eastern
country. Prides presently take up 20 percent of Iran's
compact car market and are expected to grab a 50-percent
market share by 2000 with the export increase, a Kia
spokesman said.
(Asia Pulse 01-Apr-1998)


SHINHO GROUP: To Sell Stake to Norwegian Group
----------------------------------------------
Shinho Group plans to sell a 90% stake in its newsprint
business to Norwegian forest group Norske Skogindustrier
for $160 million.
(Wall Street Journal 01-Apr-1998)


M A L A Y S I A

ORIENTAL FINANCE: Takeover by Parent Group
------------------------------------------
Oriental Bank Bhd will take over all the assets and
liabilities including the finance business of its wholly-
owned subsidiary, Oriental Finance Bhd, it was announced
Tuesday. However, the exercise would be subjected to
meeting the requirements of necessary approvals and
procedures, said the bank in a statement issued here.
Following the absorption exercise, all deposits placed
with Oriental Finance, including interest, would be
guaranteed by Oriental Bank, it added. Upon completion of
the exercise, Oriental Finance will cease its operations.
(Asia Pulse 31-Mar-1998)


ROASTERS CORP: Berjaya Unit Files US Bankruptcy Protection
----------------------------------------------------------
A unit of Malaysian-listed Berjaya Group Bhd, restaurant
chain Roasters Corporation, has filed for Chapter 11
Reorganisation Protection in a US federal court as it is
unable to sustain its operations after recurring losses
over the past years. In a statement to the Kuala Lumpur
Stock Exchange yesterday, Berjaya Group said Roasters was
placed under voluntary reorganisation to allow the company
to restructure its financial obligations. Roasters is 73
per cent owned by Vincent Tan Chee Yioun-controlled Berjaya
Group. Its other shareholders include famous country singer
Kenny Rogers and a group of private investors.

Berjaya Group said it would make full provision for the
carrying value of its investment in Roasters by writing off
the balance of approximately 106.2 million Malaysian
ringgit (S$46.7 million).

"The additional provision for diminution will result in an
exceptional loss of 8.8 sen per share (based on the
enlarged share capital of RM1.212 billion) for the current
financial year only," the statement said.

Under Chapter 11 reorganisation protection scheme, a
company will voluntarily reorganise itself and all lawsuits
and creditors will be held in abeyance. The company will
have 120 days to present a reorganisation plan for approval
by the court and creditors.

Roasters is confident that it would be able to turn around
and continue its business as a reorganisation should
restore the confidence of its franchisees, suppliers,
creditors, landlords and customers. Roasters is the owner,
operator and franchiser of 160 Kenny Rogers Roasters
restaurants in the US, Canada, South America, the Asia-
Pacific and the Middle East.

Berjaya Roasters (M) Sdn Bhd, a 100 per cent unit of
Berjaya Group, is a franchisee of Roasters and presently
operates 20 Roasters restaurants in Malaysia.
(BusinessTimes 01-Apr-1998)


WEMBLEY INDUSTRIES: Bank Appoints Receivers
-------------------------------------------
Phileo Allied Bank appointed receivers to take over Wembley
Industries Holdings, a construction form controlled by
businessman Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing's listed flagship,
Ekran. The midsize commercial bank acted after Wembley
failed to settle loans amounting to 130 million ringgit
($36 million). Whether Tan Sri Ting will be able to
negotiate a settlement with Phileo Allied Bank to
reconsider its decision is anyone's guess since such a move
is likely to spur sharp criticism from international
investors.
(Wall Street Journal 01-Apr-1998)


P H I L I P P I N E S

EASTERN TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Government to Retry Bidding
-------------------------------------------------------
Following a failed bidding in February, the government has
reduced the indicative price of Eastern Telecommunications
Phils., Inc. (ETPI) shares to be auctioned off to the
public. Herminio Mendoza, Presidential Commission on Good
Government (PCGG) commissioner, said the committee on
privatization (CoP) approved a new price of about 280
Philippine pesos (PhP) per share from PhP312, or a total of
about PhP827 million. Government decided to adjust the
indicative price of its shares in the telecommunications
company after no party submitted a bid in the auction held
on February 17. Globe Telecom GMCR, Inc., Bayan
Telecommunications Holdings Corp. and South Sea Corp.
signified their interest and were prequalified to purchase
the 10.2% stake in ETPI. But none of them cast their bids.
Industry sources claimed many firms were turned off by the
steep indicative price.
(BusinessTimes 02-Apr-1998)


NAPOCOR: Planning $95 Million Rate Rise
---------------------------------------
National Power Corporation, the Philippines' largest state-
owned utility is planning to raise electricity rates in a
move that could raise $95m and prevent the power company
from plunging into the red. Napocor said it wanted to
compensate for revenue losses caused by the extra costs of
purchasing power from independent power producers in build-
operate-transfer contracts dating back to the early 1990s.
(Financial Times 31-Mar-1998)


PILIPINAS HINO: Retrenchment Reflects Auto Market Slump
-------------------------------------------------------
Pilipinas Hino, Inc. (Pilhino) continues to struggle with
the current market slump in the automotive industry as it
recently retrenched 30% of its sales employees and closed
down its maintenance service arm in order to keep rising
overhead costs at bay. According to documents obtained by
BusinessWorld, Pilipino Sales Corp., the dealership arm of
Pilhino, laid off one third of its workforce last March due
to dwindling demand. Earlier, Pilhino permanently closed
down its vehicle service and maintenance company Pilipinas
Maintenance Services Corp. (Pimasco) also citing lack of
market demand. All 48 of Pimasco's employees were laid-off
because of the closure. A BusinessWorld source said the
current volume of orders for trucks and buses has been
considerably low.
(BusinessWorld 02-Apr-1998)


S I N G A P O R E

LUM CHANG: Profits Plunge
-------------------------
Lum Chang Holdings' profit plunged 71 per cent to $2.6
million for the six months ended Dec 31 on an almost flat
turnover of $148.6 million. Earnings per share after
accounting for a one-for-five bonus issue fell to 0.69
cents from 2.30 cents previously. Net tangible asset rose
to 90.4 from 79 cents.
(Singapore BusinessTimes 31-Mar-1998)


MANUFACTURERS INVESTMENT: Operations Shut Down
----------------------------------------------
The Singapore Confederation of Industries (SCI) has frozen
operations at its six-month-old investment arm after it
failed to raise the $50 million targeted to invest overseas
and help local small businesses. Manufacturers Investment
Holding Ltd (MIHL) will cease operations from tomorrow -- a
victim of the regional economic turmoil as well as
reluctance to invest by the SCI's 1,400 member firms and
the public.

"The company barely managed to collect just over a
million dollars even after the offer period was extended by
a month," said a source at SMA House, the Orchard Road
office of MIHL. Industry observers said the slow response
was due also to investors' perception that MIHL's directors
were mere trustees and not active players who had committed
their own money to the venture.

MIHL planned to invest $15 million in an industrial
park in China and the rest of the money was to be used as
venture capital for promising small and medium-sized
enterprises. The money collected by MIHL had been returned
to the 20 or so investors in January, sources said.
(Straits Times 31-Mar-1998)


NOBLE GROUP: Net Earnings Plunge
--------------------------------
Hong Kong-based commodity transportation provider Noble
Group yesterday reported group net earnings slumped 99 per
cent to just US$208,000 (S$330,013) for the year ended Dec
31 from US$20.3 million in the previous year. It blamed the
poor performance on the economic crisis in the region.    
Turnover rose 28 per cent to US$886.4 million. Earnings per
share tumbled from 10.5 US cents to just 0.1 US cent.
Mainboard-listed Noble said it was likely to take advantage
of its strong balance sheet to make "a significant
acquisition in a complementary line of business" in the
current financial year.
(Straits Times 31-Mar-1998)


SAHAVIRIYA STEEL: To Raise Capital
----------------------------------
Debt-ridden Sahaviriya Steel Industries Plc (SSI) is to
raise its registered capital by Bt10 billion to Bt15.68
billion as a crucial part of its financial restructuring
plan. SSI also said the foreign ownership in the company
will be extended from 31 per cent to 43 per cent. Prior to
the capital increase, SSI will reduce its current Bt5.8
billion in registered capital to Bt5.1 billion.

According to a filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand,
the company will issue 1.058 billion new common shares.
SSI will also issue 255 million units of warrants, which it
will issue to existing shareholders, according to its
report to the stock exchange. From the total capital
increase shares, 48 million will be reserved for the
conversion of Euro Convertible Bonds which were issued with
shareholders' approval at the extraordinary shareholders
meeting June 16 last year.

The company's 255 million new shares will be offered to its
existing shareholders. And another 255 million shares will
be reserved for the future conversion of the upcoming issue
of 255 million units of warrants. The company said 250
million new shares will be arranged via private placement.
Its shareholders will later decide on the allocation of the
remaining 250 million common shares.

SSI did not say with whom it will place its shares for
private placement or at what price.

According to the filing, SSI said the foreign ownership
limit will be raised by 12 per cent to 43 per cent.  
However, a foreigner who has reached the 43 per cent
holding limit but still holds the company's convertible
debentures will be allowed a limit as high as 49 per cent
of the company's stakes after the conversion of debentures
to common stocks.

At the beginning of March, Adisak Lowjun, SSI president,
said the company needed financial restructuring to improve
its debt-to-equity (D/E) ratio. Adisak said SSI had other
alternatives, including raising its registered capital and
allowing bigger foreign shareholding. Since a high D/E
ratio might make foreign creditors reluctant to extend
loans to Thai companies, some Thai corporations decided to
raise their capital to reduce the D/E ratio.

SSI expected that its restructuring plan, devised by Semico
Securities, will be completed in the next two months.

The baht depreciation has caused SSI to post a net worth of
minus Bt5.64 billion if the Bt6.6 billion in unrealised
foreign-exchange loss is taken into account. Its total
debts stood about Bt17.8 billion. According to its 1997
financial reports, SSI said that its consolidated net loss
last year rose 7.85 times to Bt10.65 billion, compared to a
net loss of Bt1.36 billion in 1996.
(The Nation 30-Mar-1998)




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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