UNITED States' client-server software designer Sybase has bought its Hong Kong and China distributor, HCL Leung and Associates, in a move that elevates it to equal second rank in global sales. Dominic Gattuso, vice-president of worldwide operations for Sybase, said the company intended to take the number one position from Oracle ''very soon''. HCL Leung and Associates has held the exclusive distributorship for China and Hong Kong for three years. For managing director Gary Leung the buy out was further sweetened by Sybase's purchase of 60 per cent of his other technology firm, Pacific Technology. Mr Gattuso said Pacific Technology was bought purely on its own merits because many of its products and services would complement the Sybase range. However, privately, Mr Leung admitted he would have been far less keen to sell HCL Leung and Associates without the Pacific deal. Currently, about 100 Sybase systems have been installed in Hong Kong and China. The China operation, larger than the one in Hong Kong, has about 50 staff and offices in Beijing and Shanghai. There are plans to expand. Mr Gattuso said Asia accounted for about 12 per cent of Sybase's revenue. ''Very little of that comes from Australia but a third comes from Japan,'' he said. It was not the fastest growing market, Mr Gattuso said, and he expected growth of 119 per cent next year, compared with an average of 50 per cent in other regions. ''What we're seeing is technology being deployed much faster than any other market,'' Mr Gattuso said. Asked why it had taken Sybase so long to take a direct interest in China, he said: ''We're a calculating company and we don't do anything until we've examined the market properly . . . the growth and potential has been proven.'' The buy out will not affect the day-to-day operations of HCL Leung. Mr Leung has been signed up to continue running the firm, and the China operation will continue under Mr Leung's brother-in-law, Roger Wei. Both men co-founded Pacific Technology. Pacific's holdings include the Client-Server Institute, Hong Kong's first training operation for client-server computing, a consulting firm called Next Step Solutions, and two software distributors for Power Builder and Office IQ.