THE Shangri-La hotel group yesterday confirmed it was planning to list Shangri-La Asia on the stock exchange later this year. Kuok Group adviser Paul Bush said Shangri-La Asia was formed last year to acquire existing hotel interests from the Kuok Group in Hongkong and China. It will be the first listing of a major hotel group since the Mandarin Oriental listing in 1987. Mr Bush said the purpose of the listing was ''to fund the group's expanding development interest, particularly in China, because of its enormous potential''. He said the group would acquire more properties in Hongkong and China. He declined to give further details of the planned listing. The Malaysia-based Kuok group started as a family sugar trading concern in the 1940s and is now involved in plantations, oil and fat refining, shipping, insurance and property development throughout Asia. In line with the group's expansion plans, the Kuok Group acquired a hotel in Xian last month. It refused to disclose the amount paid for the property. Spokeswoman Joanne Watkins said Shangri-La International Hotel Management would manage the hotel from May. The 510-room hotel was opened in 1986 and is currently managed by Sara Hotels, a Scandinavian hotel management and catering company. It will be renamed the Shangri-La Golden Flower, Xian. The hotel is the group's seventh property in China. ''The hotel will complement our other properties in Beijing, Shanghai, Hongzhou and Shenzhen,'' said Ms Watkins. The city centre hotel has two large bars, a heated pool, three restaurants, a health club and a business centre. Shangri-La International is a Kuok Group of Companies subsidiary formed in 1978. The company and its subsidiaries plan to have 28 hotels with some 1,400 rooms under their management by 1995.