JOHN Fletcher, chairman and managing director of Trafalgar House's Hong Kong and Asia unit, manages not to look jet-lagged despite having arrived at the airport hotel only minutes before from London. Mr Fletcher spends more of his time in Hong Kong than he does in London, but the board meeting to approve the results of the construction, engineering, hotel and shipping operator is not one to which excuses and apologies can be sent. This is especially true given the fact Trafalgar has launched a GBP1.2 billion (about HK$14.48 billion) cash or cash and shares offer for British regional electricity company Northern Electric. Trafalgar, which released year-end pre-tax figures of GBP45.6 million on Tuesday, is rebounding from a shaky period in better form than analysts hoped. It is Asia which is providing the power house for restoration of its fortunes. Trafalgar has been a 25 per cent associate of Hongkong Land since 1992. Hongkong Land bought in then subscribed to a crucial rights issue. This has enabled Trafalgar to slim operations and shed layers of management. It is also prepared to take advantage of the late-cycle upswing when European and American industry starts to spend on major new plants with the profits made in the early part of the recovery. Hongkong Land has in fact returned a favour. The other link between the Jardine group and Trafalgar House is Gammon, the local construction firm of which both firms hold half. Trafalgar bought its stake in the early 1980s when Hongkong Land was, in the wake of the early 1980s property crash in Hong Kong, looking even shakier than Trafalgar was in 1992 and 1993. Trafalgar has seen its China projects grow from two 18 months ago to 40. 'Hongkong Land has been very supportive not just in terms of taking up the rights issue but in intelligence and in contacts and opening doors for us in the region,' said Mr Fletcher. When Hongkong Land took a stake in Trafalgar, the company was already committed to expanding in Asia, he said. 'Five or six years ago we were looking hard at where we were going to find new growth and it came down to a choice of either Eastern Europe or Asia. 'We chose Asia.' And Trafalgar has shown no shortage of commitment to Asia. With hindsight it can be seen how fortuitous the decision was. 'We have offices in every country around the region except Burma, Laos and Cambodia.'