A HONGKONG-based metals trader with connections to the world's biggest iron and steel plant - the Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Works in Russia - is seeking to list on the Stock Exchange of Hongkong. ''We are seriously considering a listing,'' said Mr Justin Chu Chung-kin, managing director of the Linkful Group - the only Hongkong firm that trades directly with Russian steel suppliers. ''Our priorities are to look for business-related opportunities that will enhance our present business and increase profits, which we can use to finance other projects.'' He hinted that the three-year-old Linkful Group, which trades in pig iron, steel billets, hot and cold rolled coils and sheets, and cobble plates worldwide, might list as early as March. ''We do have plans. We're seeking every possible way to raise funds, so we hope everything is smooth and that things are approved, but at this stage it's not convenient to release anything.'' Turnover for the group last year was $3.5 billion, nearly double the previous year. While Linkful's main business is the steel trade, it also has interests in shipping, insurance, medical and consumer-related businesses, and owns a 23,000-tonne ship. Most of its steel products are sourced from Russia, which accounts for 50 per cent of the group's total business, while the rest comes from South Africa, Argentina, Turkey and China. In both Russia and China, the major buyers for the group last year, steel is traded in exchange for foodstuffs, household appliances and medical equipment. In other parts of the world, however, steel is traded directly. ''You can sell steel to China and get back raw materials or medical equipment,'' he said. Meanwhile, the group is putting the final touches on a multinational US$600 million deal with the world's biggest iron and steel plant, the Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Works in Russia. The plant is roughly the size of Hongkong Island. The Linkful Group will be the leading financier in a five-year mega deal involving German, Italian and Chinese firms, and the expansion and renovation of the 800-square kilometre plant. ''We'll assist in financing many projects that will take several stages, but the project size and the amount of cash we will finance with has yet to be decided,'' said Mr Chu, who will travel next week to the former Russia to finalise the agreement. The metals trader is hoping to buy a stake in the plant, but rules as to how much a foreign enterprise can own are still being drawn up. About two million tonnes, worth US$400 million, of the plant's annual steel output of about 15 million tonnes is sold outside of Russia through Linkful's trade bartering. But following the renovation, which includes a 1,080-bed modern hospital, a cold rolling mill and road construction, steel production capacity will be lifted to 19 million tonnes a year. Last October Linkful also closed a deal with Krivoy Rog Iron and Steel Works in the Ukraine - the second largest steel mill in Russia - which enables the group to buy US$98 million in steel products in return for providing US$40 million in consumer goodsand medical equipment over a two-year period.