New World Development and Liberty Mutual Insurance have joined forces to invest in small and medium-sized enterprises in China. The companies yesterday unveiled a US$150 million joint-venture investment fund, to be called New World Liberty China Ventures, which will help high-growth companies in the mainland to upgrade their competitiveness to international standards. At a banquet held in the Diaoytai State Guesthouse in Beijing last night, New World managing director Henry Cheng Kar-shun said: 'The Chinese economy will encounter a number of opportunities and challenges in the coming years . . . there is no doubt that the China market will be one of the most dynamic economies in the near future. Our new company will put its focus on fostering those high-growth, small to medium-sized enterprises.' Other investors in New World Liberty include the Asian Development Bank. While the fund has raised US$150 million so far, the plan is to raise US$600 million in investment capital by the middle of next year. The initial capital has already been earmarked for about 10 projects involving strategic and technology partnerships with General Motors, Japan's Toyo Glass, Mosler, Bessemer, Nichimen, Companion Building Materials and computer-maker Compaq. New World Liberty said its mission was to identify small to medium-sized high-growth companies to invest in. It hopes to increase the competitiveness - and bottom-line - of these companies by implementing Western-style corporate governance and management practices. New World China Enterprises Projects will serve as the fund's project manager. 'Through introducing corporate governance and management fundamentals which are comparable to the best possible international standards, we will help enhance their competitiveness as well as return on investment,' Mr Cheng said. New World Liberty said its primary investment brief would concentrate on four core business sectors: healthcare, consumer products, building materials and automotive mid-stream and down-stream services. The fund would also be one of the first foreign ventures to support Beijing's efforts to develop the country's western region. New World Development is a major Hong Kong property conglomerate that began investing in the mainland in the early 1980s. Alex Fontanes, Liberty Mutual's chief investment officer said: 'The cornerstone of our business strategy in China is to work hand in hand with our domestic partners to create mutually beneficial opportunities. 'New World Liberty will provide us with a good platform to co-operate with the Chinese business community.'