JARDINE Matheson's announcement of the tabling of legislation in Bermuda to graft the London City Code on takeovers and mergers into Bermuda law is another step by the group to remove all legal ties it has with Hongkong. The group hopes by amending this act to come in line with London takeover rules, it can at some point in the future tell Hongkong regulators to ''get lost'' as they have no jurisdiction over any future group transactions. Yesterday's group statement announcing the plan is part of a 10-year long programme of legal changes to ensure the group is in some way protected against a repeat of the losses it experienced in post-1949 Shanghai after the communist revolution in China. Some might say as this was a long time ago, let bygones be bygones. However, Jardine Matheson is not so much a company or a corporate entity, but a culture, a way of life, a certain way of thinking. Jardine Matheson corporate history is Hongkong history. The latent animosity towards the group in China re-surfaced last autumn when Beijing accused Jardine companies of spreading chaos in Hongkong and being an agent of provocation. In private, certain spokesmen suggested Governor Chris Patten's arrival in Hongkong and his democracy plans were a plot by Mr Henry Keswick, the group chairman, to destabilise Hongkong and place a social democracy time-bomb under the handover of sovereignty in June 1997. Jardine Matheson's first public distancing from Hongkong came in 1984, when it became the first company in the territory to redomicile to Bermuda. A campaign to gain a primary listing in London began after the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident. The problem was that British takeover and merger rules did not cover Bermuda companies. A deal was struck to allow the London primary listing whereby the company voluntarily agreed to abide by the Hongkong code to ensure shareholder interests were protected under such transactions. Not happy with this, Jardines is now undertaking a cosmetic exercise to graft the British rules on to the rules pertaining to its domicile. The new rules would be administered by the Bermuda Monetary Authority. If it believes for a moment the Bermuda Monetary Authority will be viewed as having the same status as the Securities and Futures Commission or the London authorities, then it has probably misjudged, and not for the first time, opinion in the outside world. In relations with local regulators on this, Jardines might decide to not make an issue of it, stay quiet, voluntarily stick with the Hongkong rules and revert to Bermuda only in a crisis. Staying quiet on this important point of domicile principle would be wholly out of character, however. Any threat to shift group listings to London if it does not get its own way this time round would be taken very seriously. Hongkong blue-chip stock turnover is currently haemorrhaging to London and New York. The globalisation of stock trading worldwide and blue-chip shares in Hongkong over the past two years makes any relisting threat very real indeed.