SEMI-TECH (Global) chairman James Ting must feel as if he is reliving a bad dream these days. After spending years winning over the Canadian investment community, Mr Ting once again finds himself at odds with Hongkong analysts who question Semi-Tech's management strategies and operating methods. This criticism has intensified following Semi-Tech's proposed sale of its 51 per cent owned Singer subsidiary to its Canadian parent, International Semi-Tech Microelectronics (ISTM), for US$850 million. ISTM, a Toronto-based publicly traded holding company controlled by Mr Ting, will acquire the Singer stake for $33.50 a share in a deal being paid for by $300 million in debt and a $550 million equity issue. ISTM says it will borrow the money from unnamed US banks and issue more than 35 million class A subordinate voting shares to its Hongkong subsidiary, which will then sell the shares in a public offering. Crosby Securities and Sassoon Securities are now rating Semi-Tech shares a sell and both are raising questions about Semi-Tech's motives, cash flow and the quality of future earnings. While brokers say the proposed sale of Singer to ISTM is a good move to realise the value of Singer not reflected in Semi-Tech's price, it leaves many analysts wanting more details. Sassoon Securities analyst Jonas Kan says the deal's negative aspect is that it will see Semi-Tech's earnings quality and asset backing deteriorate in the short-term. He says after the disposal of Singer, Semi-Tech's core holdings will be money-losing Sansui and Pfaff, and this will cause the company's profit and loss account to dip into the red before Sansui or Pfaff are turned around. This could force Semi-Tech to book profits from the sale of Singer shares above the line to prevent the decline in earnings, he says. Crosby Securities analyst Lindsay Cooper says in a report that the deal raises more questions than it answers: ''The long-term question is where does Semi-Tech go from here. ''Mr Ting would say that the group will continue to buy and sell companies at a profit - for instance Sansui and Pfaff. ''However, it is by no means clear at this stage that these businesses will be successfully turned around.'' Mr Cooper says many investors should be concerned by the treatment of Semi-Tech minority shareholders. At the centre of this claim is the US$93.8 million settlement to be paid by Semi-Tech to Bicoastal, the former owner of the Singer brand name. ''The settlement . . . was originally capitalised by Semi-Tech in its balance sheet and therefore forms part of the book cost of investment in Singer transferred to International Semi-Tech Microelectronics,'' he says. ''It therefore reduces the gain on disposal when the book cost is compared to the sale proceeds.'' It was not until yesterday that Mr Ting confirmed that Semi-Tech had included the settlement in its investment in Singer. Mr Ting says if Semi-Tech had included the Bicoastal liability in the sale, ISTM would simply have paid US$93.8 million less for Singer. However, even if ISTM did not accept the liability, Mr Cooper says it should compensate Semi-Tech because the settlement agreement with Bicoastal includes full satisfaction of past and future royalty payments. Mr Cooper says Semi-Tech claims ISTM has not paid a premium because it already controls Singer through ISTM. However, Mr Cooper says: ''If you are a shareholder in the parent company [ISTM] you might wonder why you have to cough up for control of something you already control.'' Mr Ting says ISTM could have avoided the entire controversy by simply buying the 58 per cent of Semi-Tech it did not own for about $400 million - $450 million less than it plans to pay for 51 per cent of Singer. However, he says the company decided not to go that route because of concerns there would be criticism that minority shareholders would be unfairly treated. If the Singer sale is approved, Semi-Tech's assets will include 51 per cent of Pfaff, 51 per cent of Sansui, property in suburban Tokyo estimated by Mr Ting to be worth about US$150 million, and 150 profitable Singer retail outlets in Singapore, Italy, Britain, Spain and Puerto Rico. Mr Ting says Pfaff's losses expanded after it lost 18 million deutschemarks (about HK$81.9 million) in 1991 while Sansui, which had not been profitable in 10 years, lost US$20 million. Mr Ting says Semi-Tech will attempt to become an investment bank and turnaround specialist by focusing on the acquisition of troubled companies involved in easily understood businesses. Asset sales to ISTM can be repeated when Sansui and Pfaff become profitable, because the Canadian investment community is interested in global, industrial companies, he says. It appears Semi-Tech's fundamental problem with Hongkong analysts is their lack of access to Mr Ting, who could provide them with the depth of information they require to get a complete understanding of Semi-Tech. Mr Cooper says Semi-Tech has typically had other executives meet with the investment community and that they have been unable to answer a lot of important questions. During an interview with Semi-Tech director of banking and finance Domine Ko this month, Mr Cooper says inquiries about issues such as financing arrangements were left unanswered. ''It's very frustrating because you want to get right through the numbers,'' he says. ''You want to know where they're coming from, what they're doing and where they're going.'' Mr Cooper says he will be more than happy to have Mr Ting ''make me eat my words'' about a couple research reports he issued earlier this month if Mr Ting makes himself available to questions. For his part, Mr Ting says the criticism levelled at Semi-Tech is unwarranted because many analysts simply do not understand the company and its operating strategies. He denies claims that analysts have difficulty getting access to him, saying: ''I always talk to people.'' Mr Ting says part of the problem is that analysts in Hongkong change jobs so frequently it is difficult to build relationships without having to repeatedly invest a lot of time. ''It will be a long time before I win over Hongkong analysts because of the type of business I do,'' he says. ''Whenever you buy companies, [the analysts] want to see results right away.'' There are signs Semi-Tech intends to improve its communications with the investment community and the media. These include the arrival of business journalist Nick Thompson in April to become vice-president of public relations. Bankers Trust managing director Steve Goodman says Mr Ting has three main problems: People do not understand the business. Mr Ting does not operate a typical Hongkong company. There is still some resentment about share dilution from previous Semi-Tech deals. Mr Goodman, whose bank has provided loans of $135 million to Semi-Tech, says Mr Ting's track record is enviable because four of the six deals completed have provided strong returns while only one has been poor. Canadian analysts, who have become ISTM fans, were optimistic about the re-organisation, forecasting a rise in International Semi-Tech's share price of as much as 50 per cent to C$30 within 12 months. ''The point that we make to shareholders here is that Mr Ting has been very good at fixing up companies after he buys them - not just finding cheap companies for acquisition,'' says an analyst from a brokerage seeking involvement in the Canadian underwriting syndicate. ''If you look at what he's done at Singer in terms of improving margins, gaining market share worldwide and increasing revenues in what has been a relatively flat business, it's really a remarkable record.''