Dalian International Trust and Investment Corp (Ditic) yesterday defended its financial position, saying its debt repayment problems and debt size had been exaggerated in previous reports. An official at the fund-raising arm of the Dalian municipal government said the firm had outstanding foreign debts of only US$100 million to US$200 million. The figure accounted for a great majority of borrowings, mostly long-term debts. This was contrary to earlier reports that the firm's borrowings fell between 15 billion yuan (about HK$13.95 billion) and 20 billion yuan. While the latest financial figures were not available, the official said the firm should not be in a net debt position that would lead to a possible closure. According to a Salomon Smith Barney research report, the firm had assets of 3.7 billion yuan against liabilities of 3.2 billion yuan in 1997. The report classified the firm as of relatively moderate risk because of its 'very weak liquidity'. The official said the firm would resolve its liquidity problem in the absence of government aid, as borrowing and repayment by an enterprise was a commercial behaviour. 'It's the money we borrowed. There is no reason why we have to ask the government to bail us out.' The official said the firm would have to rely on the returns they got from their investments to repay debts. 'Without fund-raising last year, returns from our investments is the only major source of capital, and I think this is also the only way forward this year,' he said. The official said the Asian financial crisis, which coincided with the peak of debt repayment last year, had led the company into liquidity problems, which he expected would be resolved this year. He said bankers were willing to co-operate in solving the problem, citing that bankers involved in a US$20 million certificate of deposit on which the firm had defaulted on a repayment in October would meet company officials in Dalian this week to talk about the issue. The bankers had earlier threatened to take legal action.