MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22
ROTHMANS International is planning to list its Asian business in Hongkong with the aim of increasing cigarette sales in China. It plans to set up a holding company, Rothmans of Pall Mall, which will incorporate Rothmans (Far East), Rothmans of Pall Mall (Malaysia) and an industrial research company in Singapore. The company is expected to be capitalised at US$1.5 billion. Fifty per cent of the shares will be in public hands, which means the company intends to raise $750 million through its public offer. Rothschilds has been appointed as financial consultant. Of four major tobacco firms, only Rothmans and R.J. Reynolds have been able to set up China joint ventures. According to a Rothmans spokesman, China has said that other foreign tobacco companies will not be allowed to set up similar joint ventures for the time being. - MING PAO MS Leung Siu-ling, a director of Hongkong Toy Centre, says the company plans to explore the high-end toy market in China and is seeking to open speciality shops in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. She expects these shops to begin operating this year. The company will also invest in property in China, she says, adding that there will not be any need to raise funds for this. - SING TAO ACCORDING to a Guangdong official, the Guangdong Transport Department plans to inject three highways, built jointly with Guangdong Enterprise and New World Development, into a new joint-venture company. The plan is to arrange for a listing in China or in Hongkong. The money raised will finance the Guangdong section of the Beijing-Guangdong highway. - SING TAO SOURCES in Beijing say Mr Robert Kuok, Cheung Kong and Hang Lung Development are still not making any progress in their plans for redeveloping Beijing's Wangfujing thoroughfare. This is due to the high cost of relocating tenants from the area and high landpremiums. Sun Hung Kai Properties and New World Development are, however, progressing with their plans for Wangfujing. A Beijing official says there will be no need to alter any of the redevelopment plans. A source says that if interested parties can reachan agreement, the reconstruction plans may have to be undertaken in parts. - SING TAO SINCERE Co is gradually expanding its business in China. After opening a department store in Shanghai's Nanjing Road, the store's floor area will be expanded to 78,000 sq ft. Sincere will open two more stores in Shanghai, each with areas of 50,000 to 100,000 sq ft. Mr Lam Lap-fung, vice-president of Sincere, says the company will concentrate on the department store business in northern China. Sincere is also considering opening stores in Hangzhou, Chengdu and Beijing. - SING TAO THE chief executive of Kee Shing Holdings, Mr Kwan Hin-hing, says Hydromet, an Australian-listed company in which Kee Shing has a 24 per cent stake, should record taxed profits of A$3.3 million (about $17.61 million) for this year. He also says Kee Shing'sfull-year profit for last year should be several times that at the interim. Mr Kwan says Hydromet's share price has risen to $1.38 from 20 cents since listing. Its market value has risen to more than $10 million. Mr Kwan also says Hydromet plans to build an industrial property in Port Kembla for $2 million. It will also invest a few million dollars on a factory building in northern Australia. - SING TAO THE securities industry is forecasting that Hang Seng Bank's profit for last year will rise more than 20 per cent, despite having to make write-offs for Olympia & York. Barclays de Zoete Wedd has forecast profits of $5.43 billion for last year and $6.49 billion for this year, representing growth of 20 per cent and 19.5 per cent, respectively. Lehman Brothers predicts profits of $5.65 billion and $6.62 billion - up 23 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively. Shearson says profits will rise 19.5 per cent and 19.8 per cent to $5.44 billion and $6.2 billion, respectively. Citicorp Vickers is expecting $5.46 billion and $7.35 billion, growth of 25.8 per cent and 22 per cent. Sun Hung Kai says profits for last year will rise 25.8 per cent to $5.69 billion, excluding write-offs for O & Y, gaining a further 22 per cent to $6.94 billion for this year. Peregrine sees profits of $5.6 billion and $6.8 billion, respectively, after growth of 24 per cent and 21.4 per cent.- MING PAO STELUX Holdings has invested about $7 billion in China. It will not invest further until it has recovered some of this outlay. In Hongkong, it will concentrate on retailing and plans to open a few more outlets this year. A director says 50 per cent of Stelux's profits this year will be contributed by Bangkok Land, while City Chain's profits should rise by 10 to 15 per cent. - SING PAO THE uncertainties over the new airport are affecting the entire construction industry. However, according to Mr Yip Wai-yee, Hsin Chong's financial director, the company will still be able to pay a high dividend despite the fall-off in turnover. This is because the company has taken on projects which offer good rates of return. Furthermore, the company has $3.1 billion worth of projects still in hand. Hsin Chong plans to enter the Malaysian and China construction markets. - EXPRESS NEWS Chinese Press Digest is produced by Corporate Information Services. For pre-publication and other services, telephone 865 5006 or fax 865 5835.