Hutchison Whampoa has asked its key subsidiaries to report details of their contingent liabilities to the holding company. The move follows the worldwide trend for companies to make clearer and wider disclosure to allay investor fears about complex accounting practices after the Enron crisis. In a memo dated February 19, Hutchison asked financial directors of its local and overseas businesses, which range from telecommunications and infrastructure to hotel and retail, to report by today all contracts that involved risks of possible contingent liabilities within their units. The e-mailed memo requested details of the type of instruments and the timing and specification of contingent liabilities in cases of borrowing money within the group. An executive said the memo was unusual within the group. The company had asked subsidiaries to report details of transactions involving amounts of more than HK$80 million in contingent liabilities. She understood the extra reporting exercise was conducted to address the Enron situation. A newspaper report last week drew a comparison between Enron and Hutchison, saying Hutchison had HK$106 billion in contingent liabilities that were not fully reflected in its consolidated statement. The blue-chip company hit back, saying there was no similarity with Enron, either in Hutchison's credit or risk profile or the appropriateness of its disclosure practices. More than 94 per cent of Hutchison's contingent liabilities in 2000 were related to actual loan liabilities of its subsidiaries. Investor concerns over hidden risks facing Hutchison, which has third generation telecoms ambitions in Europe, sent the stock lower in recent weeks. Its shares fell about 5 per cent after the Lunar New Year. Morgan Stanley on Wednesday said the accounting concerns could have a negative effect on Hutchison, which has one of Asia's most complex and least transparent accounting structures. Hutchison yesterday denied its housekeeping exercise had anything to do with Enron. 'Being a listed and rated company, it was a routine exercise to review various financial obligations from time to time,' a Hutchison spokeswoman said. The company would be happy to comply with the increased disclosure requirements proposed by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing for SAR companies, she said. Analysts welcomed the extra disclosure. Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Joanne Wong said: 'This is a good thing to us. To present the accounts in more details does not only benefit us, it also shows that the company is responsible to its shareholders. The more disclosure, the better.' The analysts said Hutchison could set an example of what other companies should do to restore investor confidence.