BERMUDA plans to promote itself directly in China as a tax-free venue for offshore registration of mainland companies, according to Bermuda Premier David Saul. Mr Saul said he wanted more companies from the mainland and other parts of the Asian-Pacific region to register in Bermuda, which spared non-resident business operations from any form of tax on profit or income. Mr Saul and other Bermuda officials were in Hong Kong as part of a Southeast Asian tour to promote international business. Bermuda incorporation is recognised by the Hong Kong stock exchange for Hong Kong-listed companies. About 44 per cent of the companies listed on the exchange are registered in Bermuda to take advantage of the tax haven and acquire off-shore status. Mr Saul said his government was planning a promotion tour to China to recruit mainland-funded companies in need of an off-shore registration, although China was not included in the present trip. Minister of Finance Grant Gibbons said Bermuda aimed to facilitate the off-shore registration process for mainland companies, which he said would allow the companies access to stock listings in the United States. Price Waterhouse tax partner Kaushal Tikku believes more mainland-funded companies will acquire registration outside China, and Bermuda could be one of destination selected for such a registration. 'Naturally more and more China-based companies will register overseas as businesses in China explore all avenues to raise funds,' Mr Tikku said. A common practice was for a mainland company to buy a Bermuda-incorporated Hong Kong company to acquire off-shore status. Joint-ventures involving China and foreign investment often had the foreign-owned stakes held by a Bermuda-registered company. Mainland companies also could register directly under Bermuda jurisdiction but were subject to approval from Chinese authorities, Mr Tikku said. He said Bermuda was only one of the options available. 'There are many places they [mainland companies] can choose other than Bermuda. Some companies may choose to register in Hong Kong, because profits earned in their mainland operation also will be tax-free in Hong Kong,' he said.