CHINA National Non-ferrous Metals Industry Corp (CNNC), the largest metal trading group on the mainland, is to make Hongkong its starting block for the launch of a global assault on non-ferrous-metal markets. CNNC has already bought shareholdings in several Hongkong-listed companies, including Laws Property, International Industries, Jinhui Holdings and Tem Fat Hing Fung. As part of its globalisation plan, vice-president Wu Jianchang said the corporation was also looking at the possibility of turning its subsidiaries into public entities in the overseas market. Mr Wu, son-in-law of paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, said that besides focusing on its main source of business, the non-ferrous metals market, CNNC would be investing in the property sector in Hongkong. But he stressed that the corporation would continueto buy shareholdings in, and not take over, locally-listed companies, related to its existing business. ''Only if the price is cheap, would we buy out a company,'' said Mr Wu. CNNC had ambitious plans for its assault on the global non-ferrous market, in which it sees tremendous potential. ''We would like to arrange for the transfer of technology, expertise, funds and non-ferrous metals into China from overseas,'' said Mr Wu. Although the company produces around three million tons of non-ferrous metals annually, its present capacity cannot meet the demand. Mr Wu believes that the technology and funds transferred into China from overseas would help develop the market further. In the property sector, the corporation has numerous projects in major Chinese cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Yantai, Qingdao and Shenzhen. Besides property development, it also deals in building materials, construction and renovation-related businesses. Mr Wu emphasised that CNNC was keen to concentrate only on developing property, unlike other investors in the country, who were fond of speculating on this sector in the China market. There has been recent speculation that the Central Government plans to ask mainland firms operating overseas to repatriate funds to China in order to stabilise the depreciating yuan rate. But Mr Wu said his company had not been informed of such a plan so far. He does not believe that the overseas expansions of Chinese firms is the reason for yuan depreciation. Mr Wu pointed out that the corporation's investment capital outside China did not originate from the mainland, but was transferred from the funds already accumulated by the overseas operations. ''Actually, what the CNNC is doing is using foreign funds for China expansion and our subsidiary, Laws Property, is one of example,'' he said. In revealing that the CNNC would be taking part in the redevelopment of the Beijing railway station, Mr Wu said Laws Property might be involved in the project. The corporation is arranging a US$100 million syndicated loan. The package is being put together by Merrill Lynch with ABN Amro Bank leading the syndicate. Mr Wu said the loan agreement would be signed on June 22 and the funds made available would be used to develop the corporation's non-ferrous metals market in China. Oriental Metals (ONFEM) is CNNC's Hongkong-listed flagship and owns the Entertainment Plaza in Tsuen Wan and the Pacific Centre in Central, which was acquired last month and will soon become ONFEM's corporate headquarters. The total asset value of the company is about $1.5 billion. CNNC is one of China's four largest specialist state-run enterprises, which come under the direct control of the central government. Its businesses include mining, production, distribution, and marketing of raw and processed non-ferrous metals. In fact, CNNC has been commissioned by the central government to establish industry standards for all management and research, that is related to non-ferrous metals in China. China is the world's fourth largest producer of non-ferrous metals. By the year 2000, the country is expected to surpass both Japan and Canada to become the world's second largest producer after the US. CNNC controls more than 80 per cent of China's market for non-ferrous metals. It directly controls 239 non-ferrous metals companies, employing 1.04 million workers. Its total assets are valued at 32.5 billion yuan. CNNC produces a wide range of non-ferrous and rare metals, as well as materials used in semiconductors. These products include aluminium, copper, tin, nickel and zinc. In 1992, CNNC produced 2.86 million tons of non-ferrous metals, while total sales reached 28 billion yuan. Profit before tax was 4.8 billion yuan. It also posted hard currency gains of US$500 million during the year. CNNC will expand its industrial output in line with China's economic development plans. The corporation is currently negotiating to raise funds overseas for capital restructuring of seven large existing production enterprises. Mr Wu said that, with the support of the central government, CNNC would establish 10 national-level industrial laboratories. This would result in the creation of 10 industrial enterprises through shareholding or joint venture methods, in accordance with international standards. China National Nonferrous Metals Industry Corporation Background: One of China's four largest specialist state run enterprises under the direct control of the central government. Business: Mining, production, distribution, and marketing of raw and processed nonferrous metals. Contact: Wu Jiangchang, vice-president. Address: 12B Fuxing Road, Beijing, China. Postcode, 100814. Tel: 8516357, Telex: 22086 CNIEFC CN.