Cash-strapped CP Pokphand started to offload its assets yesterday, while denying it has held talks with a mainland company over the sale of a direct stake in the firm. CP Pokphand said its New York-listed subsidiary, Ek Chor China Motorcycle, had sold its 50 per cent interest in Shanghai-Ek Chor Motorcycle to its joint-venture partner, Shanghai Automotive. The deal, worth 106 million yuan (about HK$98.69 million), was subject to mainland regulatory approval and was expected to be completed late next month, the Hong Kong-listed arm of the leading Thai conglomerate said. CP Pokphand president Sumet Jiaravanon said: 'It is no secret that, like many companies in Asia, CP Pokphand has been affected by the tighter financial conditions in the region. This disposal . . . will provide a cash boost.' Shanghai-Ek Chor, which designs, builds and distributes motorcycles, was one of many projects which have made CP Pokphand Group one of the largest Asian investors in the mainland. Mr Sumet said the group's long-term strategy was to concentrate on its core agri-business ventures, which were 'in general performing well'. News of the sale failed to boost CP Pokphand's shares, which have been under severe pressure since the company said last week it risked default on bonds worth US$92.8 million if the paper was redeemed. CP Pokphand shares dropped 4.66 per cent yesterday to 41 HK cents. At the start of last week, the stock was trading at HK$1.15. Trade in the counter remained active yesterday, with 50.65 million shares changing hands compared with an average of 1.87 million over the past 12 months. The firm is in talks with creditors about restructuring its debts, which are said by analysts to total up to US$1 billion. A meeting with bondholders is set for May 29. Mr Sumet said interest payments due on all floating-rate notes had been paid on time but that access to ongoing working capital depended on 'the co-operation of our lenders'. The firm also moved to quash rumours sparked by press reports it was in negotiations with Sichuan's New Hope Agricultural Holdings to sell a direct stake to the Shenzhen-listed company. It said: 'The directors would like to clarify that no negotiations or agreements have ever been entered into.'