Publisher Ming Pao Enterprise has finally made a full provision for the $185.79 million unsecured loan linked to former chairman Yu Pun-hoi, which caused a $166.93 million net loss in the year to March 1998 against a $2.78 million net profit last year. The recoverability of the loan has been troubling Ming Pao since 1994 when it made a short-term loan to an unnamed mainland party guaranteed by CIM. CIM is a private company owned by Mr Yu. Actions to recover the loan escalated in January after Ming Pao filed a writ against CIM. Together with a $5.2 million provision for unrealised losses on short-term investments, the group reported a $191.07 million one-off loss. However, operating profit before taxation more than doubled to $24.09 million last year from $10.63 million previously. Ming Pao, which owns Chinese language flagship Ming Pao Daily News, said the group's overall performance 'gradually improved' in spite of the economic crisis and keen competition in the newspaper industry. 'By early 1998, the property and retail markets were so depressed that the group's advertising revenue was badly affected,' it said. Turnover was slightly lower at $1.22 billion last year compared with $1.25 billion the previous year. The group's other publications, such as gossip magazine Ming Pao Weekly, maintained their revenue while the magazine Ming Pao Monthly saw 'a noticeable increase in circulation'. Circulation of magazine Yazhou Zhoukan, however, fell short of expectations. The group's travel arm Charming Holidays had also been seriously hurt by the tourism downturn. Ming Pao said the group's exposure to Charming was insignificant.