Henderson China Holdings is diversifying into e-commerce by developing an online metal-trading platform with China National Non-Ferrous Industrial Trading Group (CNIT) and two Canadian companies. It is part of more than 200 deals signed by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien who led a large Team Canada business delegation to China yesterday. The joint venture, China Metals Net.com, has secured a 20-year exclusive trading right from CNIT, which generates annual trading activity of more than US$1.2 billion. CNIT is part of the China National Metals and Minerals Import and Export Corp. Henderson China chairman Peter Lee Ka-kit expected China Metals Net.com to generate a profit once it started operations by the year-end as it had already secured one of China's largest non-ferrous metal suppliers (CNIT) as its online trader. The online metal-trading platform would charge sellers 0.25 per cent to 1 per cent of the transaction value as commission for every successful deal, he said. Based on its minimum guaranteed US$1.2 billion trading from CNIT, the new venture could generate at least US$3 million a year. Mr Lee said China Metals Net.com would seek an initial public offering at an appropriate time, but there was no specific plan. A listing could provide more opportunities for the venture to grow through merger and acquisition instead of simply raising funds. He refused to disclose the share equity of the joint venture but CNIT would be the majority shareholder. The two Toronto-based partners are Canadian Venture Exchange-listed Inter-Citic Mineral Technologies and private firm Internet Incubation.com. Ho Hao Veng, brother of Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah, is a director of Inter-Citic Mineral which focuses on investment in China. Internet Incubation.com specialises in the development of compelling Internet companies involved in the online community. Mr Lee expected the new venture would help improve Henderson China's earnings from the next financial year, adding it would continue to expand into e-commerce in a bid to tap growing opportunities for foreign investors once China entered the World Trade Organisation. Internet Incubation.com chairman Abe Schwartz said the partners so far had committed US$1 million to the venture and the total investment cost would be about US$10 million. Inter-Citic president James Moore said while China Metal Net.com was being created mainly for trading ferrous metals in China, it would also pursue the North American and European markets.