TCRAP_Public/990428.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, April 28, 1999, Vol. 2, No. 81

                    Headlines


* C H I N A   &   H O N G   K O N G *

GUANGZHOU ETHYLENE: Support vow for tie-up of unprofitable firm
SHENZHEN FINANCE: Banks ready to sue Shenzhen over $40m debt


* I N D O N E S I A *

BAKRIE & BROS: Majority of Bakrie creditors back deal
PT BANK INDOVEST: Government shuts down two banks
PT BANK LTCB CENTRAL ASIA: Government shuts down two banks
SALIM GROUP: To sell Singapore property


* J A P A N *

MITSUI MUTUAL: Moody's assesses financial strength of insurers
NISSAN MOTOR: Renault to get government help in Nissan rescue job
SUMITOMO LIFE: Moody's assesses financial strength of insurers
TOKYO MUTUAL: Moody's assesses financial strength of insurers


* K O R E A *

ILSHIN STONE: Seoul District Court begins liquidation
ILSUNG CONSTRUCTION: Seoul District Court begins liquidation
KOREA FIRST BANK: Newbridge keen on bank buy
KOREA TITANIUM: Seoul District Court begins liquidation
TONG-IL HEAVY: Seoul District Court begins liquidation


* M A L A Y S I A *

RENONG BHD: No interest on Renong loan stocks yet
TONGKAH BHD: Tongkah's loans restructured


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

PHILIPPINE AIRLINES: PAL to meet with creditors, SEC on set-up


* S I N G A P O R E *

NEW TOYO: New Toyo Int'l 1998 net drops 75%
THAKRAL CORP: Thakral warns it may be in the red
VIKAY INDUSTRIAL: Vikay's China assets may be sold to HK company


* T H A I L A N D *

NAKORNTHON BANK: Chartered buys control of Thai bank
PACIFIC ASSETS: Vinai to stay on PA board
RAJDAMRI HOTEL: TFB to keep RHC shares despite 'good offer'
SIAM CEMENT: Embracing transparency in post-crash world
SRITHAI SUPERWARE: Restructures $146m debt

THAI AGRI FOOD: BAM to sell 36.6% stake in Thai Agri Food
WATTACHAK: Mystery fax worsens plight for Wattachak


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

GUANGZHOU ETHYLENE: Support vow for tie-up of unprofitable firm
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Guangzhou Petrochemical Complex will receive bank and
government backing as part of a plan to merge the failed 8.37
billion-yuan (about HK$7.78 billion) Guangzhou Ethylene Project.
Guangzhou Petrochemical, a subsidiary of China Petrochemical
Corp, said it would bail out Guangzhou Ethylene -- 90 per cent
owned by the municipal government -- in a preliminary agreement
signed earlier this month. Guangzhou Petrochemical president Hong
Zhiming said the deal called for the company to assume about five
billion yuan in debt.

In return, the oil refiner will receive a seven-year standstill
on loan interest payments, guarantees for new lending, and a
return of local charges on the facility.

Municipal officials also agreed to assume responsibility for more
than 2.5 billion yuan in debt for the plant.

The buy-out, which is expected to be completed later this year,
draws to a close one of the most expensive investment failures by
a mainland provincial government. The deal also raises serious
questions about the central government's determination to carry
through with plans to create commercial and operational
independence for state-owned companies.

Mr Hong said the merger agreement was brokered by the Economics &
Trade Commission and State Council under the direction of Premier
Zhu Rongji. "The ethylene project has state-owned assets and
Guangzhou Petrochemical is state-owned too, so we have a
responsibility to save it," he said. "Even though that will bring
difficulties to Guangzhou Petrochemical, if not risks."

The merger is certain to land profitable Guangzhou Petrochemical
in a swamp of debt.

Mr Hong said profits would be channelled toward paying off debts
at the ethylene project for at least five years. Moreover, the
company would need fresh loans to pay off maturing debt for the
facility, even though Guangzhou Petrochemical has received
approval to set aside interest payments on existing lending for
seven years.

The Guangzhou Ethylene Project was completed in September 1997,
but operated for only three-months before being shut down, after
the municipal government said the plant's 150,000 tonne annual
capacity was not enough to allow the facility to break even, much
less see a profit. Losses were projected to run to 800 million
yuan each year the facility operated. (South China Morning Post
27-Apr-1999)


SHENZHEN FINANCE: Banks ready to sue Shenzhen over $40m debt
------------------------------------------------------------
Eight banks are preparing to sue a finance company owned by
China's Shenzhen city government for not paying US$40 million in
overdue debt, a banking source said yesterday. The finance
company is the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Development
Finance, which is licensed by China's central bank to raise funds
for companies owned by the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone
Development (Group) Co. SSEZDFC acts much like China's trust
companies known as the international trust and investment
corporations (ITICs), except it can only lend to companies within
the group.

The Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Development (Group) Co is
owned by the Shenzhen city government via the Shenzhen Municipal
Investment Management Co, a unit which holds state-owned assets
on behalf of Shenzhen city.

SSEZDFC has US$40 million in foreign debt due to eight banks --
Banque Nationale de Paris, Dao Heng Bank, Dresdner Bank,
Guangdong Provincial Bank, Nanyang Commercial Bank, Standard
Chartered Bank and Sumitomo Bank -- a source close to the banks
said. The banks provided the credit individually but plan to take
action together against SSEZDFC, the source told Reuters.

He said SSEZDFC could not repay the debts because funds were on-
lent to other companies within the group and SSEZDFC was itself
waiting for repayment. SSEZDFC stopped servicing interest in
January.

The eight banks appointed the same legal counsel and sent demand
letters to SSEZDC on the same day earlier this month to
accelerate repayment of the loans. There was no response and the
banks had a meeting last Friday and decided to take the company
to Shenzhen courts within the next two weeks, the source said.

"The banks are talking individually with their lawyers but will
synchronise their actions and file petitions at the same time,"
he said. (Reuters and Business Day [Thailand] 27-Apr-1999)


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

BAKRIE & BROS: Majority of Bakrie creditors back deal
-----------------------------------------------------
Bakrie & Brothers has confirmed plans to give its creditors
stakes in its most profitable businesses to repay US$1.02 billion
in debt, in one of the country's biggest debt-for-equity swaps.
Bakrie, one of Indonesia's most prominent non-Chinese business
groups, intends to hand over 80 per cent of its holding in five
enterprises, including Bakrie Sumatera Plantations to lenders.
Its creditors -- 93 per cent of whom are foreigners -- will also
get 30 per cent of what remains of Bakrie itself. The plan could
pave the way for more large debt-to-equity pacts as Indonesian
companies try to repay about $70 billion in foreign debt.

The rupiah value of these debts soared after the currency plunged
against the US dollar. The rupiah has lost more than two-thirds
of its value since August 1997.

So far, only 50.4 per cent of Bakrie's creditors have agreed to
the pact.

Still, that was enough to allow the swap to go ahead, said Irwan
Sjarkawi, the company's president director.

"We're still working on these other creditors to find a solution"
and expect one soon, Mr Sjarkawi said.

Nalin Rathod, Bakrie's chief financial officer, expects all
creditors to accept the company's terms.

"They'll definitely agree", he said, declining to detail what
options the company had if some of the lenders decided to balk at
the offer.

Through its various units Bakrie & Brothers manufactures and
sells steel pipes and building materials, trades in rubber and
palm oil and provides telecommunications services.

Stripping out the five companies Bakrie wants to hand over, the
remaining firm will control a pipe company and little else.

Under the proposal, 80 per cent of Bakrie's shares in telecoms
consortium Iridium, Bakrie Sumatera Plantation, Bakrie Electric,
Arutamin and Bakrie Kasei will be transferred to a new company to
be called the Master Special Purpose Vehicle, which will be owned
by its creditors.

Bakrie owns 2.2 per cent of Iridium, 52.4 per cent of Bakrie
Sumatera, 70 per cent of Bakrie Electronics, 20 per cent of
Arutamin and 25.49 per cent of Bakrie Kasei.

Since Bakrie is giving creditors 30 per cent of its holding
company, the company's lenders will end up with about 86 per cent
of the stake Bakrie held in those five enterprises.

Mr Sjarkawi said if the new controlling shareholders wanted to
change the management of these firms, they were welcome to do so.
(South China Morning Post 27-Apr-1999)


PT BANK INDOVEST: Government shuts down two banks
-------------------------------------------------
The Asian Wall Street Journal reported that the Jakarta
government shut down two of its 32 joint-venture banks, PT Bank
Indovest and PT Bank LTCB Central Asia, in an effort to clean up
the country's ailing banking system.

Bank Indovest is majority owned by Indonesian state PT Bank
Dagang Negara, with Nikko Merchant Bank of Singapore holding
17.43% and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi 18.14% and 13.43% held by the
public, the paper reported.


PT BANK LTCB CENTRAL ASIA: Government shuts down two banks
----------------------------------------------------------
The Asian Wall Street Journal reported that the Jakarta
government shut down two of its 32 joint-venture banks, PT Bank
Indovest and PT Bank LTCB Central Asia, in an effort to clean up
the country's ailing banking system.

Bank LTCB Central Asia is 25% held by PT Bank Central Asia--which
was nationalized last year, and the remainder is held by the
nationalized Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, according to the
report.


SALIM GROUP: To sell Singapore property
---------------------------------------
Indonesia's struggling Salim Group is in the final stage of
negotiating to sell its Singapore property assets to Philippine
tycoon John Gokongwei, people familiar with the plan said. (Wall
Street Journal 27-Apr-1999)


=========
J A P A N  
=========

MITSUI MUTUAL: Moody's assesses financial strength of insurers
--------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service downgraded the insurance financial
strength ratings of Sumitomo Life, Mitsui Mutual Life, and Tokyo
Mutual Life and confirmed the insurance financial strength rating
of Asahi Mutual Life. Moody's said that the actions reflected
assessment of the effects a weak capital base, low profitability
and asset quality issues would have on the risk profiles for life
insurance companies. The rating outlook for all four companies
was negative, Moody's added. Mitsui Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s
insurance financial strength rating was downgraded to Baa3 from
Baa2.


NISSAN MOTOR: Renault to get government help in Nissan rescue job
-----------------------------------------------------------------
International Trade and Industry Minister Kaoru Yosano has
promised help to France's Renault as it begins to rebuild
troubled Japanese car-maker Nissan Motor. Mr Yosano pledged his
support at a meeting with Renault chairman Louis Schweitzer and
Nissan president Yoshikazu Hanawa. Last month Renault spent
US$5.4 billion buying minority control of Nissan and a stake in
its truck-making affiliate Nissan Diesel Motor.

"We would like to support the tie-up by using various policy
means," Mr Yosano was quoted as saying by a trade ministry
official. "We as a ministry, Japan and the Japanese people are
happy with the tie-up between Renault and Nissan."

There was no talk in the meeting about cutting capacity at the
debt-laden Japanese firm.

Mr Hanawa has pledged to cut production capacity in Japan but
ruled out closing any plants.

"I have only one concern," Mr Yosano said. "Are there French
speakers at Nissan?"

Mr Schweitzer replied: "Now Renault officials are studying
English very hard. Our common language is English." (Agence
France-Presse and South China Morning Post 27-Apr-1999)


SUMITOMO LIFE: Moody's assesses financial strength of insurers
--------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service downgraded the insurance financial
strength ratings of Sumitomo Life, Mitsui Mutual Life, and Tokyo
Mutual Life and confirmed the insurance financial strength rating
of Asahi Mutual Life. Moody's said that the actions reflected
assessment of the effects a weak capital base, low profitability
and asset quality issues would have on the risk profiles for life
insurance companies. The rating outlook for all four companies
was negative, Moody's added. Sumitomo Life Insurance Co.'s
insurance financial strength rating
was downgraded to Baa2 from Baa1.


TOKYO MUTUAL: Moody's assesses financial strength of insurers
-------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service downgraded the insurance financial
strength ratings of Sumitomo Life, Mitsui Mutual Life, and Tokyo
Mutual Life and confirmed the insurance financial strength rating
of Asahi Mutual Life. Moody's said that the actions reflected
assessment of the effects a weak capital base, low profitability
and asset quality issues would have on the risk profiles for life
insurance companies. The rating outlook for all four companies
was negative, Moody's added. Tokyo Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s
insurance financial strength rating was downgraded to B2 from B1.
(Star Online 27-Apr-1999)


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

ILSHIN STONE: Seoul District Court begins liquidation
-----------------------------------------------------
According to the Korean language Maeil Kyungje's Business Brief
Section, the Seoul District Court began liquidation procedures
for the Ilshin Stone Company.


ILSUNG CONSTRUCTION: Seoul District Court begins liquidation
------------------------------------------------------------
According to the Korean language Maeil Kyungje's Business Brief
Section, the Seoul District Court began liquidation procedures
for the Ilsung Construction Company.


KOREA FIRST BANK: Newbridge keen on bank buy
--------------------------------------------
Newbridge Capital, which agreed in December to buy control of
state-owned Korea First Bank, said the transaction was not in
jeopardy. A newspaper yesterday reported differences between the
two sides had widened and that the government was ready to pull
out of the agreement.

"I was surprised to see this report," said Weijian Shan, a
managing director at Newbridge. "This is wrong. We are fully
committed to this deal." The sale of Korea First, one of South
Korea's weakest banks, is a key part of the country's financial
reform efforts. Its collapse could set back government efforts to
regain confidence in its policies and the economy. (South China
Morning Post 27-Apr-1999)


KOREA TITANIUM: Seoul District Court begins liquidation
-------------------------------------------------------
According to the Korean language Maeil Kyungje's Business Brief
Section, the Seoul District Court began liquidation procedures
for the Korea Titanium Company.


TONG-IL HEAVY: Seoul District Court begins liquidation
------------------------------------------------------
According to the Korean language Maeil Kyungje's Business Brief
Section, the Seoul District Court began liquidation procedures
for the Tong-il Heavy Industry Company.


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

RENONG BHD: No interest on Renong loan stocks yet
-------------------------------------------------
Renong Bhd said yesterday that it would not pay interest on its
irredeemable unsecured loan stocks from May 22, 1998, to May 21,
1999, pending the outcome of its debt restructuring scheme and
planned revision to the terms of the loan stocks. Renong said in
a statement that at end-March the total outstanding nominal value
of the loan stocks was 240.42 million Malaysian ringgit (S$108
million) while interest due was RM8.273 million. (AFX-Asia and
Singapore Business Times 27-Apr-1999)


TONGKAH BHD: Tongkah's loans restructured
-----------------------------------------
The Asian Wall Street Journal reported that the Malaysian health
and financial-services group Tongkah Bhd.'s loans totaling 529.7
million ringgit have been restructured.

In an agreement signed Friday, secured loans of 392.447 million
ringgit and unsecured loans of 137.285 million ringgit have been
exchanged for five-year bonds.  Secured lenders will be issued
with 462.7 million ringgit nominal value redeemable convertible
secured bonds with 196,223 detachable warrants to fully settle
the 392.447 million ringgit in secured loans, which includes
outstanding interest.  The bonds will be backed by assets
currently pledged to the respective secured loans, according to
the Asian Wall Street Journal report.  The bonds will have a
gradual redemption schedule in which 25% of the outstanding
nominal value will be redeemed in year three, 33% in year four
and the balance in year five.

According to the report, unsecured lenders will be issued 161.996
million ringgit in irredeemable convertible unsecured loan stocks
in exchange for 137.285 million ringgit debt outstanding,
including interest.

All bonds and warrants will have a five year tenure and be listed
on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.  The bonds can be converted
into Tongkah shares two years after the issue date.  They will
have a cash coupon of 1% during the first three years, and 2% in
the fourth and fifth years, the paper reported.


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

PHILIPPINE AIRLINES: PAL to meet with creditors, SEC on set-up
--------------------------------------------------------------
This Friday, the new management of Philippine Airlines, Inc.
(PAL), defends its being to the airline's secured creditors and
the Securities and Exchange Commission. A ranking PAL official
told BusinessWorld the three parties are to meet this Friday to
clarify the issues raised by aircraft secured creditors on the
legality of the recent reorganization of the flag carrier's
management.

"It's time that the issues raised regarding the management
changes this past week is addressed and all the aircraft
creditors' questions be answered," the PAL official pointed out,
strictly speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official said among the creditors expected to attend this
Friday are the European creditor agencies (ECAs), the Export
Credit Guarantee Department of the UK, Compagnie Francaise
d'Assurance Pour le Commerce Exterieur (Coface) of France, Hermes
Kreditversicherungs AG of Germany and the US Export-Import Bank
(Eximbank).

Members of the flag carrier's interim rehabilitation receiver are
also preparing an official response to the "strongly worded"
letter sent by the aircraft creditors last April 20. In that
letter, Eximbank and the ECAs demanded that the SEC "immediately
clarify" the legal authority of the 14-man PAL board of directors
to appoint new senior officials despite the existence of the
interim rehabilitation receiver. Earlier, the SEC upheld the PAL
board's decision saying the same no longer needed its "approval
and confirmation."

The creditors also "reserved" their right to terminate existing
leases and repossess the 19 aircraft tied to their loans.

The PAL official said the clarificatory meeting is necessary so
as not to delay the flag carrier's ongoing rehabilitation
efforts.

Meanwhile, the PAL official said German carrier Lufthansa AG was
scheduled to submit its formal offer for PAL's maintenance and
engineering operations last April 23. However, it did not push
through because of the "confusion" generated by the sudden change
in the PAL management. (BusinessWorld 27-Apr-1999)


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

NEW TOYO: New Toyo Int'l 1998 net drops 75%
-------------------------------------------
New Toyo International Holdings has announced a 75 per cent drop
in group net earnings to $1.95 million for 1998. Turnover dipped
2.6 per cent to $122 million. The main board-listed company
attributed the reduced profits mainly to a foreign exchange loss
of $4.6 million. The directors have declared a final dividend of
3.5 per cent, down from 7.5 per cent previously. (Singapore
Business Times 27-Apr-1999)


THAKRAL CORP: Thakral warns it may be in the red
------------------------------------------------
Electronic goods distributor Thakral Corp yesterday warned that
it probably slipped into the red for the year ended March 31.
The company, which had predicted an improved performance for
the second half of its financial year in view of the seasonal
nature of its business, said several circumstances have
"negatively affected" its projections.

"In the second half of the financial year, operating conditions
turned out to be more difficult than the group had anticipated
and it expects to make significant provisions for trade-related
losses," Thakral said.

Last November, it reported a sharp 31.4 per cent drop in interim
profits to $25.9 million. Turnover fell 16.5 per cent to $428.4
million for the half year ended Sept 30.

Thakral deputy chief executive officer Elie Baroudi said the
decrease in sales was mainly due to the severe flooding in China
in July and August. About 97 per cent of group turnover comes
from selling branded consumer audio-visual electronic products in
China and Hongkong.

Managing director Inderbethal Singh Thakral said then that he
expected business to improve in the second half, as retail sales
pick up with the Chinese New Year celebrations in February.
(Singapore Business Times 27-Apr-1999)


VIKAY INDUSTRIAL: Vikay's China assets may be sold to HK company
----------------------------------------------------------------
Negotiations are ongoing to sell Vikay Industrial's factory
building, plant and machinery in China to a Hongkong company, the
judicial managers of the stricken liquid crystal display maker
said in a circular to its creditors. Efforts are also underway to
sell some of Vikay's assets in Singapore and Hongkong as well as
its inventory in China. But there has been no progress on the
sale of its branded products business, the circular disclosed.

In March, a conditional agreement was struck to sell almost all
of Vikay's business undertakings to Malaysia's Lantech Sdn Bhd
for $23 million. But the agreement left out its China assets, the
branded goods division and certain assets elsewhere.

The China assets, belonging to two wholly owned subsidiaries of
Vikay, are located in Longgang, Shenzhen. The potential buyer has
indicated a willingness to pay $13 million for the assets but
based on negotiations so far, a sale price of $15 million is
possible, the judicial managers said.

However, the sale is conditional on resolving the issue of the
land use rights for the land on which the factory is sited, which
is expected to take two months and require the payment of a $1
million premium to the Chinese government. If the sale proceeds,
the stocks of the two subsidiaries may be sold to the buyer or
other parties for another $2 million.

Vikay's headquarters in Singapore is also being marketed by Jones
Lang Lasalle and is expected to fetch $4-4.5 million. Efforts are
underway to sell its commercial building in the New Territories
in Hongkong.

However, no agreements have been reached on the sale of Vikay's
branded products division. These operations may be wound up if
there is no offer from interested parties in the near future, the
judicial managers said.

Sesdaq-listed Vikay has been under judicial management for over
a year. It owes 24 financial institutions a total of $107
million. (Singapore Business Times 27-Apr-1999)


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

NAKORNTHON BANK: Chartered buys control of Thai bank
----------------------------------------------------
Standard Chartered will tomorrow announce the purchase of a
controlling stake in the Thai commercial bank Nakornthon Bank,
the UK group's second Asian acquisition in the past week. A
signing ceremony in Bangkok with the Ministry of Finance tomorrow
afternoon will bring to a close months of negotiations about the
sale which has attracted at least two other foreign suitors.

The deal forms part of Standard Chartered's strategy to expand in
Asia by seizing opportunities exposed during the regional
economic crisis. The group's chief executive, Rana Talwar,
yesterday said Asia offered "once in a generation" openings for
development and expressed a determination to expand through
acquisition and organic growth.

Shares in Nakornthon Bank were suspended on the Bangkok Stock
Exchange yesterday. Under the deal, Standard Chartered will
progressively acquire at least 69 per cent with the injection of
4.8 billion baht (about HK$988.8 million) through a three-sided
rescue plan, according to a Bangkok analyst. The Thai Government,
as part of its rescue and restructuring initiative for the  
banking system, will pump in an estimated 13 billion baht to
cover the bank's negative equity position. Standard Chartered
yesterday declined to comment on the terms of the deal.

As the second phase, it will acquire a 20 per cent holding for
1.4 billion baht with the existing controlling family and other
minority shareholders taking up 11 per cent of the stock for 700
million baht. The Wanglee family, which has a 35 per cent stake
in the bank, will see its holding shrink to about 4 per cent
under the restructuring plan.

The sale was viewed in Bangkok as an important step in the
government's attempt to reform the banking system through the
introduction of foreign competition. Political wrangling has
slowed progress in the disposal of several other controlling
stakes in banks to foreign investors. Nakornthon Bank is among
Thailand's smaller commercial banks with estimated assets of 57
billion baht.

However, its concentration of branches in the capital has the
potential to provide access to the country's most affluent
customers. Of the 68 branches in the network, 46 are located in
Bangkok, employing 2,000 staff.

The Thai purchase comes a week after the announcement of the
purchase of a controlling interest in Bank Bali.

Standard Chartered will take an initial 20 per cent stake but has
negotiated the right to move to full control under a call option
arrangement. The bank has 200 branches but through a
rationalisation plan, greater emphasis will be given to serving
commercial banking markets in the larger urban centres. (South
China Morning Post 27-Apr-1999)


PACIFIC ASSETS: Vinai to stay on PA board
-----------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has come up with no
appropriate method for intervening in the business of listed
resort and hotel operator Pacific Assets (PA) in order to remove
Vinai Phongsathorn from the board of directors. Vinai is alleged
by small shareholders to have siphoned off a large amount of
money, from the company's directors board. He has denied the
allegations.

"SEC has no authority to remove Vinai from PA's board. As a
result, it would not make any difference to small shareholders
attempt to petition us to take action," said Kajornsak Outthasin,
SEC Acting Director for Corporate Finance Department.

Vinai, PA's managing director, was accused by minor
shareholders with a combined stake of 10 percent in PA of
having extended 161.47 million baht of loans without any
collateral to Prae Wa, which is 93 percent owned by himself.

According to the Public Company Act, providing loan from a
listed company to another owned by one of its director is
prohibited. In addition, Prae Wa, with a registered capital of 33
million baht, is suspected as having no actual business.
(Business Day [Thailand] 27-Apr-1999)


RAJDAMRI HOTEL: TFB to keep RHC shares despite 'good offer'
-----------------------------------------------------------
Thai Farmers Bank (TFB) will keep its 8.3 percent interest in
Rajdamri Hotel (RHC) even though tender offer prices proposed
by Royal Garden Resort (RGR) and a group led by Goldman Sachs
(Asia) are found to be very attractive. Another major shareholder
of RHC, the Crown Property Bureau is interested in selling its
shares to the party offering the highest price.

RHC CEO MR Pridiyathorn Devakula said TFB has already been
approached by both parties, however, it refused to sell its
holding in RHC because of a strong fundamental and bright
outlook.

RHC reported a net profit of 180 million baht for 1998 and
predicted to post a net profit of at least 150 million baht this
year. Its debt to equity (D/E) ratio at the moment stands at 1:1,
he said.

Both RGR and Goldman Sachs (Asia) are fighting to the end in a
bid to control a majority stake in RHC. Goldman Sachs last week
announced the increase of its tender offer price to 43 baht for
15 percent of all outstanding shares, however, in case tendered
shares exceeded 15 percent, each seller will receive a weighted
average price between 38 and 43 baht for each tendered share,
depending on the total number of shares tendered.

RGR tender offer price stands at 38 baht compared to the
previously proposed price of 27 baht for a 10-percent stake.

RHC shares traded in the stock market yesterday surged 0.50
baht to close at 40.75 baht.

MR Pridiyathorn affirmed that RHC's current management team
would remain unchanged no matter which party gained control
over RHC. (Business Day [Thailand] 27-Apr-1999)


SIAM CEMENT: Embracing transparency in post-crash world
-------------------------------------------------------
Siam Cement, saddled with $4.2bn in unhedged debt and facing a
surge in ferocious global competition, was forced to examine
critically a sprawling empire that had promiscuously entered
scores of joint ventures, mostly with foreign partners, during
the boom years.

With advice from McKinsey Consulting, it decided to focus on its
core businesses of pulp and paper, petrochemicals and cement.
Everything else -- from auto parts to steel -- has been put up
for sale if the management cannot convince itself it can offer
"world class" expertise in that field.

The company also quickly realised that it would need to
communicate more with investors. Last year it was taken on an
international road show by Goldman Sachs. "It's amazing. They've
moved light years in investor relations," says Peggy Creveling,
head of research at Paribas Research in Bangkok.

Nevertheless, analysts, who have yet to see a big asset sale,
want to see more than just words.

"Management mentality has improved dramatically and they are much
more focused on the bottom line. But we haven't seen them deliver
yet," said ING Barings' senior investment analyst, Paworamon
Suvarnatamee. (Financial Times 27-Apr-1999)


SRITHAI SUPERWARE: Restructures $146m debt
------------------------------------------
Srithai Superware, the country's largest manufacturer of
melamine and plastic products, said it secured creditors'
approval for the restructring of its $146 million debt, according
to the company's statement submitted to the Stock Exchange of
Thailand.

"We will now submit the plan to authorities," said Srithai's
Finance Manager Pramote Boonrad. Yet, he declined to elaborate
details of the plan. Srithai President Sanan Angubolkul earlier
said creditors agreed to convert part of the debt into equity in
the company. The restructuring plan also requests for an
extension of loan repayment period.

Srithai's major creditors are Bank of America, Citibank NA, and
Standard Chartered.

Srithai's debt comprises $86 million in bank loans and $60
million in 10-year convertible bonds due in 2006. The company
stopped paying principal since October, 1997. (Business Day
[Thailand] 27-Apr-1999)


THAI AGRI FOOD: BAM to sell 36.6% stake in Thai Agri Food
---------------------------------------------------------
Bangkok Commercial Asset Management (BAM) is in talks with
local and foreign investors to sell at least 36.6 percent stake
in Thai Agri Food (TAF) which it seized from delinquent debtors.
BAM is proceeding with the stake sale despite opposition from
the second largest shareholder, the widow of J.M. Rajan Pillai.

BAM's senior official Somsak Detpittayanan said the sale of TAF
shares will be conducted through private placement (PP).

"The sale of TAF equity and equity holding in other companies
BAM seized from delinquent debtors is a part of the company's
policy and will used the money received from shares selling to
repay its offshore debts," he said.

BAM, the investment unit of the defunct Bangkok Bank of Commerce
(BBC), also plans to sell a 24.4 percent stake in TAF owned by
J.M. Rajan Pillai's widow, Nina Pillai, once legal procedure
which now stands in the Criminal Court has completed, he said.

BAM has filed a law suit against Pillai family to repay debt
borrowed from the defunct BBC in 1995.

He said the value of Pillai's 24.4 percent equity holding in TAF
is considerably lower than the amount of debt as the current
price of TAF share stands around 37-38 baht apiece compared to
Pillai's debt which was borrowed to purchase TAF shares backed
in 1995 at the high of 103 baht.

However, its plan to sell the entire 61 percent stake in TAF,
including a 24.4 percent stake currently owned by Pillai family,
may be blocked by Nina Pillai who was appointed the executive
of her husband's estate.

Pillai's advocate A.K. Mehta said that BAM's holding in TAF is
against authority of principle of equity transfer.

According to Nina Pillai's statement, the 36.6 percent stake
taken by BAM came from the transfer by Suvimol Pumpaisanchai
(23.64), Industrial Enterprises (IEL) (12.20), and Pace
International (PIL) (0.76) registered to hold the shares in TAF
as nominee for the late J.M. Rajan Pillai and his partner Pace
Investment International (PIIL). However, the transfers were made
without the approval of Nina Pillai and PIIL. (Business Day
[Thailand] 27-Apr-1999)


WATTACHAK: Mystery fax worsens plight for Wattachak
---------------------------------------------------
An apparent dispute between two key executives is worsening
problems for the Wattachak Group, a newspaper publisher ridden
with debt and under threat of being delisted. Vice-chairman
Praphan Boonyakiat called an urgent staff meeting yesterday,
after receiving a fax said to have been sent by chairman Nikorn
Pornsathit on Friday. Mr Praphan claimed that Mr Nikorn wanted to
end his authority to sign documents for the company and delegate
the task to managing director Santi Ruengpaisarnbamrung and
director Kingkarn Hongron.

Mr Nikorn, who heads a group holding more than 60% of Wattachak's
shares, had previously delegated full responsibilities to Mr
Praphan. Mr Praphan said he had tried to contact Mr Nikorn as he
doubted the authenticity of the fax. Efforts by the Bangkok Post
to contact Mr Nikorn proved fruitless.

Mr Praphan, upset and puzzled by the fax, said: "I've been here a
long time and tried to help the company comprise with creditors
over the past eighteen months. I've never once seen Mr Nikorn
come to the office. So I am surprised to receive a mysterious fax
depriving me of authority.

He denied that he planned to leave Wattachak and start a
newspaper, leaving Mr Nikorn to merge Wattachak with Manager
Group, another debt-ridden newspaper publisher. Lawyers at Pipat
and Friends, the company advising Manager, also denied the
rumour, saying it was impossible as the newspaper group was
making process with its rehabilitation programme.

The group has defaulted on redundancy payments totalling 30
million baht and owes about three-and-a-half months' salaries,
totalling about 20 million baht, to current employees. Of the
group's debts totalling 11.5 billion baht, 70% is owed to foreign
creditors, and 30% to local lenders. Foreign debt totals US$17-18
million in syndicated loans, $53 million in euro-convertible
debentures, and $3 billion in baht-denominated bills of exchange.

Wattachak's assets total 14.46 billion baht. The group has tried
to reduce costs by closing almost a dozen publications, while
trying to negotiate on debt restructuring. Last September,
Schroder Bank and the Arab Bank accepted the group's proposed
rehabilitation plan and agreed to have Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
study the details. But last month, the Arab Bank told the group
it would rehabilitate Wattachak but only handle half the cost. It
said the other half should be met by local creditor banks --
Krung Thai Bank and Bangkok Bank. But the two Thai banks refused
the proposal, resulting in a delay of the rehabilitation plan.

Last week, Wattachak was told by the SET it would be delisted for
failure to comply with disclosure and financial reporting rules.
Its directors and executives would then be blacklisted from
holding positions at listed firms in the future. (Bangkok Post
27-Apr-1999)


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