Singapore entrepreneur Wong Toon King has billed his technology company's tie-up with Pacific Century CyberWorks as a 'partnership between two countries'. 'This is not only a business partnership,' said Mr Wong, a former fencing champion who founded and heads privately owned SilkRoute Holdings. 'I think the private sector must take the leadership in forging ties between Asia south and Asia north, because we are too interdependent and we must make things work together.' Hong Kong and Singapore are more often seen as regional competitors, particularly in business and finance. However, Mr Wong said: 'I think this partnership is the beginning of closer ties between the two countries.' Richard Li Tzar-kai's Hong Kong-listed CyberWorks is to make a strategic investment of US$26.9 million for a 25.1 per cent stake in SilkRoute. CyberWorks has an option to invest a further $6.6 million for an additional 4.9 per cent stake within the next year. Mr Li said: 'Our two groups have much in common - most significantly, a vision of information technology's critical importance to Asia's economic competitiveness and social development.' SilkRoute's most promising start-up is Advanced Manufacturing Online (AMO), a business-to-business e-commerce service for managing high-technology manufacturing supply chains. AMO was the first spin-off from SilkRoute's development arm, SilkRoute Ventures, which has a host of big-name backers including 3i, AsiaTech, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Doll Capital. SilkRoute Holdings has retained a 38 per cent stake in Silicon Valley-based AMO, whose blue-chip clients include Sony, Matsushita and Motorola. Mr Wong and his partners are best known in Hong Kong for founding Internet content provider Asia Online. Mr Wong said: 'In the course of the next 18 months, SilkRoute Ventures aims to incubate and spin off more than 10 on-line businesses which may well, as has been the case with AMO, prove to be among Singapore's hottest Internet companies.' Next year, he hopes to list SilkRoute, which is loss-making, on Singapore's main board and possibly the Nasdaq market in the United States.