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THURSDAY, APRIL 22

CHONGQING, Sichuan, which offers the largest retail market in southwest China, is working hard to attract foreign investment. It is said a number of foreign companies, including Yaohan International, are discussing possible projects with the authorities. - WAH KIU YAT PO A SOURCE says Hutchison Whampoa has signed an agreement to build a bridge in Chongqing. It is estimated that Hutchison will initially invest 600 million yuan (about HK$813.6 million) in the project. - WAH KIU YAT PO MR David Yip, executive director of the Lippo Group, says the company is planning to build a power plant in Meizhouwan. The project will be undertaken in stages. In the first stage, about US$300 million to $500 million will be required. Besides the power plant, the company will also be developing the entire area as the central authorities have earmarked the place as a tourist area. The area to be developed is about 20 sq km and the initial investment will be about HK$20 million to $30 million. - TIN TIN DAILY NEWS A SOURCE in the property industry says a Japanese company has sold its largest property asset in Hongkong - the Somerset luxury flats on Repulse Bay Road - for $45 million. It is said the buyer is a mainland group. - HK ECONOMIC JOURNAL DAH Sing Financial has continued to place shares to raise more than $310 million, which will be partly used for the takeover of Wing On Bank. The company is also planning to issue floating interest deposit certificates to raise $690 million for its operating capital. According to sources in the banking industry, the company has appointed UBS to handle the issue of floating rate certificates. - ORIENTAL DAILY NEWS RECENTLY, Cheung Kong suggested to the Government that the company build a rail system between Ma On Shan and Cheung Sha Wan. Property experts believe that if the scheme goes ahead, property prices in Ma On Shan will go up by at least 10 per cent. The mainreason why Cheung Kong has proposed the scheme is that the company is to develop two large-scale residential properties in Ma On Shan on a site bought at an auction last year. The site covers 180,000 sq ft and one million sq ft of usable floor space can bedeveloped. - TA KUNG PAO A SOURCE on the mainland says the People's Bank of China has recommended a two percentage point increase in interest rates in an attempt to check overheating in the country's economy. Officials of the Bank of China say they have not heard of such rumours and reckon that it is unlikely the central bank will raise rates now. Other sources close to the Bank of China say officials have denied that overheating is also occurring with respect to production. - SING TAO TOPFORM International has opened its store in Shanghai. The three-storey shop has a floor area of 7,000 sq ft. Investment in this project was $2 million. The company is now planning another store in Dalian. Managing director Wong Chung-chong says that apart from developing a retail business in China the company is also looking into wholesale business. It will first look at setting up warehouses and wholesale points in Dalian, Shanghai and Guangzhou. - HK ECONOMIC TIMES MR Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa, has denied speculation that his company is planning to place 10 per cent of its shares with a mainland group. Talk also has it that after placing the shares Hutchison will undertake an exercise to raise $20 billion. - HK ECONOMIC TIMES IT is said that Hutchison Whampoa will place 10 per cent of its shares with a mainland group at $20 a share which will be followed by a one-for-10 rights issue to raise $14 billion. - TIN TIN DAILY NEWS MR Li Ka-shing says his group may co-operate with Mr Wang Jun, chairman of Continental Mariner Investment, which was recently taken over by CITIC of Beijing. One area of co-operation could be satellite television. - SING TAO A SOURCE in the securities industry says SHK Hongkong Industries has placed out 32 million shares or about 8.8 per cent of the total issued shares of Star Paging at $1.95 a share, raising $62.4 million. Mr Fung Yu-fai, a director of SHK Industries, has confirmed the sale. He adds that the company's holding in Star Paging has been reduced from 17 per cent to about eight to nine per cent. - HK ECONOMIC TIMES MR Lo Ka-shui, managing director of Sung Foo Kee, says he is not optimistic of the company's full-year results due to the continuing doldrums in the construction business in the territory and resulting low profit margins. He says that while the company's business in Hongkong will be subsidised by Singapore operations to some extent, there is still little cause for optimism. Contracts in hand in Singapore amount to $400 million to $500 million and there is a plan to list the Singapore operations independently. Sung Foo Kee does not plan to enter the construction business in China due to low profit margins, but an investment in a cement plant is being considered together with property projects. - HK ECONOMIC TIMES Chinese Press Digest is produced by Corporate Information Services. 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