The government is expected to agree soon on shareholding and valuation Hong Kong's digital trade transport network (DTTN) will come closer to fruition next month, when the government is expected to agree to the shareholding structure and value of the portal's management company. Officials from the Economic Development and Labour Bureau and Tradelink, the firm given the DTTN contract more than a year ago, are close to a deal which will see building start on a single Web interface for all Hong Kong's trade-related information technology systems, senior executives said. 'There are three agreements yet to be finalised, but I would expect the third of those to be in place by the end of next month,' Tradelink chief executive Justin Yue Kwok-hung said. The management company, DTTN Co, has been incorporated with a working capital of HK$150 million. The other agreements on shareholding and operational structure are all but signed and the two sides are said to be close to a key share valuation which would allow the government to transfer its 42 per cent interest in Tradelink to DTTN Co. The network is expected to bring billions of dollars in economic benefits to Hong Kong's trade transport community, not least for small- and medium-sized enterprises, which will receive cheap, easy access to new technology. Tradelink will hold a 51 per cent stake in DTTN Co, the government 21 per cent and public sector trade and industry bodies will take the remaining 28 per cent. 'We have received indications of interest from various groups [on acquiring some of the 28 per cent], some very specific. But we need to finalise the shareholding structure first,' Mr Yue said. The government has hired an auditor to value its stake in Tradelink, a critical part of the process given that it would like to take the company public eventually. Although Tradelink will have majority control, DDTN's board will need an 80 per cent majority to approve 'serious commercial decisions', according to John Hammond, head of the bureau's e-logistics team. Mr Yue has said it will take 13 months to make the network operational once the company is formed. Singapore last month stated its intention to build a similar portal called Infoport, and has begun pre-qualifying firms to bid for the contract to run the company, giving Hong Kong a six- to eight-month lead to put a system in place. Consultancy firm Accenture, which two years ago envisioned the Hong Kong network, said savings for local industry would reach HK$11.8 billion over the next 17 years. Mr Hammond, who also expects to see an agreement on DTTN Co next month, said a key to the network's success among South China's smaller merchants, traders and manufacturers would be the price. 'The DTTN has to be compulsive rather than compulsory. Its services have to be offered at a price they can afford,' he said. 'It has to provide them with a more economic means of undertaking trade processes electronically. I believe we have achieved that.'