Wharf Holdings sold HK$1.9 billion worth of listed securities last year, according to its latest annual report. The group's holdings in locally listed shares were cut to HK$4.95 billion as at December 31 last year from HK$6.86 billion a year earlier. The market value of its long-term investment portfolio, which includes domestic and overseas listed securities and unlisted securities, was HK$5.25 billion. Last year's transactions mean the value of the portfolio - stated as being worth HK$9.87 billion in the 1997 annual report - had been reduced by almost half in the past three financial years. As of last year, listed companies were not required to disclose investments in listed securities at cost value. In the 1998 year, the market value of Wharf's listed shares was HK$7.07 billion, almost HK$2 billion less than its carrying cost of HK$9.07 billion. 'The new policy tells us less about the company's portfolio,' one analyst said yesterday. Analysts believed that Wharf might have booked some of the profits from the sale of some holdings in China Telecom and HSBC. Most of the group's shares are believed to be 'quality blue chips', they said. In the latest annual report, Wharf also disclosed that the company had posted a surety bond worth almost HK$2.5 billion as at December in relation to legal action brought against Wharf by United States-based cable operator UIH. The bond, secured by an investment property, certain listed investments and fixed deposits from Wharf, was pledged to a bank as security for damages. It is understood Wharf placed the bond in 1997, and the value of the assets backing it had since risen from HK$2 billion in December 1998. In April, the Court of Appeal in the US ruled that Wharf was liable for about HK$1.45 billion in damages and interest. Wharf said that, based on legal advice, the company believed there were strong grounds to appeal against both the verdict and the amount of award and it would 'appeal and resist the claim accordingly'.