MULTI-millionaire founder of United States-based PC firm AST Research, Tom Yuen, has teamed up with former AST Asia-Pacific vice-president Philip Wong to launch a series of information superhighway-related projects. Along with unnamed Hong Kong investors, the two long-time collaborators have launched an investment vehicle called Asia Communications Holdings to pursue information delivery opportunities in Asia. The company has no concrete mandate, but will pursue such diverse information-related activities as providing Internet access - through Mr Wong's existing investment in Hong Kong-based provider Asia On-line, of which he is chairman - to CD-ROM publishing, to developing content for interactive services, or even re-selling communications bandwidth. The Shanghai-born Mr Yuen, who was raised in Hong Kong before he emigrated to the US at 18, has in recent years invested strategically in technology companies that target what he calls the convergence of the high-technology and entertainment industries. The investments include the acquisition of SRS Laboratories, which has patents on a three-dimensional sound technology; NuReality, a company that builds audio enhancement products; Light Touch Systems, which is developing a new light amplification technology that will become important in the development of large-format flat panel projection screens; and MPC Technologies, a marketer of multimedia notebook systems. So far, Mr Yuen has steered well clear of the information services market in the US, which he said is subject to too much competition from giant investors. The Asian markets represented a good opportunity, however, since the information industry was still immature. 'In Asia, there is still a lack of any kind of stand-out network like an America Online or a CompuServe,' Mr Yuen said. 'The idea of the holding company is to give it the flexibility to expand as fast as is possible, and yet it does need to if the market is smaller than expected.' The new company is targeting the largely unexplored niche in Asia for on-line interactive services. If the region follows trends in the US, then Asia is set for a boom in on-line information. Mr Yuen said the Asia Communications platform could also get involved in activities as diverse as making personal digital assistants or personal communications devices. The partners are looking to the strengths of their contacts and associates: Mr Yuen's at the upper echelons of the computing and entertainment industries in the US; Mr Wong's in Hong Kong, China and Asia. 'The speed with which we want to grow this business really depends on the market acceptance and the reality check,' Mr Yuen said. 'On the one hand, I think we have the components to grow this business very fast.' He said raising capital was of little concern. Between his contacts in North America and Mr Wong's contacts in Asia 'we certainly have the resources to provide for a significant company'. Mr Wong said Hong Kong would be used as the base for the new company's operations in the region, but only for as long as rules governing the free-flow of information remained adequate. 'Freedom of information rules are absolutely critical to this,' he said.