Sharply contrasting performances marked the return of car parts trader Leading Spirit (Holdings) and its television-making subsidiary Leading Spirit Conrowa Electrics (LS Conrowa) to stock market trading yesterday. Leading Spirit surged 115 per cent to 14 cents after announcing a $150 million share placement to a Beijing-based investor to ease its total debt burden of $1.11 billion. LS Conrowa, however, fell 86 per cent to 23 cents after it said major shareholder and chairman Wong Shi-ling had used most of his 3.7 per cent stake in the firm as collateral for his personal investments. Brokers said LS Conrowa was dumped by Japan's Daiwa Securities which is suing Mr Wong for failing to repay a $104 million loan relating to margin trading. The Securities and Futures Commission said yesterday it was still investigating LS Conrowa's share trading between June and November when it suspected 23.15 per cent of the 25 per cent of the company in public hands was controlled by a group of connected traders. LS Conrowa's adviser, Standard Chartered Asia, said LS Conrowa had 28.65 per cent of its shares in public hands after Leading Spirit placed 100 million LS Conrowa shares to unrelated parties on March 27. The placing price was not disclosed. LS Conrowa said it had $244 million in outstanding debts, excluding $526.9 million term loans on March 4 and was suffering cash-flow problems after creditors lost confidence in the group. The confidence crisis was triggered by the drop in Mr Wong's interest in Leading Spirit below 51 per cent as a result of the reinforcement of security by parties who extended credit to Mr Wong. Mr Wong's interest will further shrink to 40.26 per cent from 48.02 per cent after Leading Spirit agreed to issue 1.5 billion new shares, or 16.18 per cent of the enlarged share capital, to Beijing Yazhong Development. Sources said Beijing Yazhong had previously been a client of Leading Spirit and was a state-owned unit. The shares were placed at 10 cents, a premium of almost 54 per cent to their level of 6.5 cents before trading was suspended on January 15. Leading Spirit claims to have $61 million in cash on hand. Its joint-venture subsidiary has applied to utilise a 300 million yuan (about HK$279.24 million) facility from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China which it can access even though it is still awaiting approval.