Guangdong ventures pay off

SEVERAL Hongkong companies which are key players in the economy of Guangdong province are well positioned to benefit handsomely from the province's anticipated growth explosion over the next few years, according to brokerage SG Warburg Securities.

According to a new report entitled ''The Miracle of Guangdong Province'', the plays set to pay are Guangdong Investment, Ka Wah Bank, New World Development, China Travel HK, Lam Soon (HK), Giordano Holdings, Cafe de Coral Holdings and Shun Tak Holdings.

As the first major Hongkong property company to get involved in infrastructure and property development in China, New World Development holds significant stakes in some of Guangdong's most important projects.

These include a 40 per cent stake in the Guangzhou northern ring road, a 50 per cent stake in the Zhujiang power station and a 35 per cent stake in the Shenzhen-Huizhou highway.

New World also has an attributable land bank in Guangdong of more than 18 million square feet.

Ka Wah Bank, controlled by CITIC Hongkong with minority stakes held by the People's Construction Bank of China and China Travel Service, is seen as another good play on the province's infrastructure development.

In Guangdong's Eighth Five-Year Plan (1990-1995), infrastructure development is slated to soak up US$20 billion in overseas financing - 30 per cent in the form of loans.

China Travel stands to reap from the province's booming tourist industry, which is largely domestic but increasingly foreign.

Shun Tak Holdings - Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho's Hongkong flagship enterprise - is the best play on Macau and Zhuhai, the special economic zone adjacent to the Portuguese enclave, which reverts to China in 1999.

In 12 years, Zhuhai has been transformed from a remote fishing village into a booming industrial centre with gross industrial production in 1991 of 10 billion yuan (about HK$13 billion) and 1992 GNP growth of over 35 per cent.

Exports zoomed from US$3 million in 1980 to US$700 million in 1991.

Massive infrastructure development plans are under way, including a superhighway link to Guangzhou, a deep-water port, an upgraded airport and a bridge or tunnel across the Pearl River delta.

Warburg's remaining China-play stock picks are poised to cash in on the lucrative potential of the consumer market in Guangdong.

Giordano Holdings, as one of the region's leading casual wear retailers, has opened two stores in Guangzhou and one in Shenzhen - the latter achieving higher sales per square foot than outlets in Hongkong.

Lam Soon (HK), whose food processing activities include being the leading producer and supplier of aluminum cans to local beverage manufacturers, is expected to boost its position in the Guangdong market once new plants in Shenzhen open in 1994.

Cafe de Coral Holdings, a regional chain of fast-food restaurants, is quickly expanding in China as the concept of Western-style fast food is increasingly finding favour with the mainland palate.

Guangdong Investment has diverse interests in property, brewing and tourism. It shares a monopoly with China Travel Service on bringing daily tour groups to Hongkong from China.