GUAN Jinsheng is bursting with plans. Having masterminded the recent acquisition of two listed companies in Hong Kong, the head of the Shanghai International Securities Company is anxious to move on. With Ong Holdings and Public International - since renamed Shanghai International (Hong Kong) and First Shanghai Investments, respectively - under his belt, he is busy going about establishing a mainland-run China fund, enlarging the margin trading business, becoming an even more active underwriter of new issues, and moving into new markets, particularly Singapore and Malaysia. This is big talk from the president of a company formed only five years ago - indeed, formed before stock markets had even been established in China. But Mr Guan, also vice-chairman of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, has powerful backing and no shortage of companies queuing up with funds to help the business grow. Shanghai Securities is, after all, China's largest securities group with a paid-up capital of one billion yuan, 800 brokers and 40 subsidiaries. It was the first Chinese company of its kind to take over a foreign-listed company when it bought Public International in November 1992 through an alliance with tycoon Li Ka-shing. An even bigger purchase was completed in June, when 55.3 per cent of Hong Kong-listed finance house Ong Holdings was bought for $66.6 million from its Singaporean owners. Shanghai International now controls a group whose two main assets are deposit-taking company Ong Finance and broking firm Ong & Co (Hong Kong). Few changes have been made so far, but Mr Guan has warned the 60 staff that they can stay only ''if they accept the Shanghai International spirit''. The broking side of the business has already increased its daily turnover from an average of $5 million a day to $40 million. ''At the beginning, we set the goal of internationalisation,'' Mr Guan said. ''We have tried to find our own style of doing this. Concentrating on the securities 'Golden Triangle' of Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan seems to me to be the suitable style.'' So, besides the tie-up with Mr Li in Hong Kong, an alliance has been forged in Taiwan with Chuang Pen-psao, a leading businessman and influential figure in the island state's ruling party. The Shanghai company is still examining the Taiwanese market, but sees considerable scope to raise funds for Taiwan-Chinese joint ventures. Six years ago, this was all a dream. ''I had the idea to set up a securities company in 1987,'' Mr Guan says. ''However, in 1987, there were no companies issuing shares, nor were there even any bonds which could be traded by individuals. But there was a great deal of discussion about establishing capital market.'' When he approached the Shanghai municipal government with his idea in 1988, he wanted not only finance for the project, but to be given ''a free hand to manage the company''. The way he tells it, there was an enthusiastic response - and approval from Beijing took just a few months. By July 1988, Mr Guan was open for business. His first problem was ''just to find people who knew something about this business''. Using contacts and drawing on the resources of former colleagues at the Shanghai Investment Corporation, where he used to work, he brought together 10 million yuan in the Shanghai International Securities Co. A core staff of four graduates were recruited and trained by Mr Guan. The next task was to spread the word about the advantages of the shareholding system. His small team visited scores of companies, extolling the virtues of creating share-issuing entities. Seminars were held for larger groups of managers, who formed enthusiastic audiences. ''We could not make money at first,'' Mr Guan says. ''But we made a lot of friends.'' The friends, however, were not ready to transform their companies. So Mr Guan turned to the only existing investment vehicle offering the prospect of profit: treasury bonds. These were a well-established feature of government fund-raising, but the market in Shanghai was small and dominated by banks. ''I realised that we could not compete with them,'' says Mr Guan. ''So I went out of Shanghai to 25 other provinces.'' His company started buying bonds from state institutions in these provinces and selling them to individuals. At the time, bank deposit rates ranged from nine to 12 per cent, while treasury bonds were yielding about 20 per cent. With typical understatement, he says: ''We got a lot of business - enough to make to profit in our first year of operation.'' In fact, Shanghai was caught up in treasury bond fever and rapidly emerged as China's main bond exchange centre. However, by July 1, 1990, the state bonds matured and there were no new issues. This made Mr Guan redouble his efforts to establish a share exchange business. A grey market had already emerged trading in the stocks of companies which had issued shares to their employees and, by the end of the year, the Shanghai stock exchange was finally formally established. Shanghai International Securities was quick to move into the business of underwriting and sponsoring new floats, as well as trading the shares of the new companies. It has now participated in 40 share issues. In Shanghai, it has been the lead manager for 60 per cent of the public issues of A shares, the counters dominated in local currency and reserved for local investors. With a network of 22 branches in Shanghai and 21 branches in other provinces, Shanghai International has emerged as the single largest share trader in China. The company has also established an aggressive property development arm, which is building a 50-storey skyscraper in Shanghai's Pudong development area. The new building will mainly be rented, but will also finally give Shanghai International a permanentheadquarters. At the moment, the head office is in a rundown hotel near the city centre, where staff almost overflow from a warren of small rooms that once served as bedrooms. ''There are some very powerful securities companies in Hong Kong,'' says Mr Guan. ''We are just a little brother, but maybe, within about five to 10 years, we can develop into something much bigger.'' Ever the optimist, he adds: ''I hope this period can be shortened.''