U-MING Marine Transportation Corp, one of Taiwan's largest shippers, plans to invest up to US$100 million in a Singapore subsidiary in an effort to lower costs and open new business. U-Ming, a unit of Taiwan's huge Far Eastern Group, received approval from Taipei authorities last month to invest US$10 million in a Singaporean subsidiary that would conduct freight forwarding and other shipping business. The company is also considering plans to enter the Chinese market. The company will raise the capital of the 100 per cent-owned Singapore unit to US$100 million if a planned overseas sale of US$90 million of convertible bonds is successful, according to U-Ming spokesman Lee Lung-wen. U-Ming, Taiwan's largest bulk shipper, submitted an application to Taiwan's Securities and Exchange Commission for the bond issue last week. ''The important goal [in Singapore] would be to expand into new markets,'' said Mr Lee. The new company would probably use vessels with Singaporean or another countries' flags for business with China, where Taiwan ships are not currently allowed to sail, said Alan Hellawell, an analyst with S.G. Warburg. ''It could be a solution to the ban on Taiwan ships docking at PRC ports,'' said Mr Hellawell. The U-Ming spokesman emphasised that the company would seek to develop routes other than those to China through the Singaporean unit. He said details of the plan were still evolving. Analysts believe the investment could position U-Ming to reap quick returns if the bulk shipping market picks up next year on stronger worldwide economic growth,. ''It could have a lot of benefits for them both in terms of lowering costs and expanding,'' said Maureen Chu, an analyst with HG Asia Securities in Taipei. ''We think the bulk shipping industry will recover next year, and, with the strong intention to expand, [the investment] should be good for U-Ming.'' U-Ming revenues in 1993 are forecast by HG Asia to climb to NT$2.9 billion (about HK$841 million) from NT$2.6 billion last year on the delivery of three new ships this year. Net earnings are expected to increase to NT$280 million this year from NT$213 million last year. The US$100 million would allow the company to buy between two and five bulk ships, which would be used to carry commodities such as ore and grain, analysts said. U-Ming would also gain from the Singapore investment through lower wage costs, an increased labour supply and tax incentives. Taiwan's shipping industry is handicapped by high wages for crew because of a labour shortage and restrictions on the hiring of foreigners, according to Warburg's Mr Hellawell. Apart from its more liberal hiring rules, Mr Lee said U-Ming had chosen Singapore as the site for the planned new hub because of tax incentives provided by the Government there and because the Far Eastern Group had previously had successful projects there. Mr Hellawell said Taiwan had recently abolished selected tax incentives for the shipping industry. Members of the Far Eastern Group with investments in Singapore include Asia Cement Corp. and the Far Eastern Textile.