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Deal to test HK Telecom

HONGKONG Telecom has long fancied its chances in China's telecommunications market and has recently been making plenty of noises that big contracts were in the offing.

Now the ambition seems to have been realised as it has apparently buttoned down a contract to lay under-sea cables through to un-specified foreign shores.

Hongkong Telecom was said to have been granted the contract to integrate China into the global village by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

Operated as a joint venture, the contract will require the company to provide specialist cable-laying ships.

Undersea cables are not exactly its main line of business and the new venture represents a diversion into the niche end of the telecommunications industry.

Perhaps it is a taster for bigger things to come, although the project could be a hardship venture in order to test the company's good faith.

WORLD bond markets continued to wobble last week despite the steadying influence of better than expected United States inflation figures and the impact of the recent chaos is lingering on.

Debt offerings into the US market by Asian sovereign issuers, government ministries and companies have all been victims, according to banking sources.

Hong Kong corporates were said to have been among the list who had been ready to go for debt offerings but will have wait for issuing spreads to narrow from their current gaping levels.

SPIRALLING commercial property prices continued last week with the industry's gauge of 9 Queen's Road, Central, touching a new high at $22,000 per square foot.

However, an equally interesting game was being played in the Kowloon suburb of Ma Tau Kok.

A while back Hong Kong China Gas decided to re-develop one of its two gas plants in the area. Although keen to develop a residential complex on the site, the Government's Lands Department was not sympathetic to the idea.

Instead, the land was zoned for industrial usage to allow Hong Kong China Gas to put up factories. Yet factories are hardly going like hot cakes as Hong Kong decamps its manufacturing into China.

Obviously twigging on to the fact, we are told the company has just submitted another planning submission to the department. No prizes for guessing Ma Tau Kok could be getting a spanking new office development, government zoning officials notwithstanding.

TO our knowledge, investment strategists have never had their work judged by literary critics.

However, the competitive urge to write more interesting copy, as the journalistic profession likes to put it, seems just as alive in the world of investment strategy.

Dr John Quinn, who recently joined NatWest Investment managers as their top strategist, has put out his first report entitled After the Bull Market and the Bear Market: The Cow Market and the New Masters of the Universe.

Crammed full of extremely serious investment advice on the Asian markets, it seems in today's environment of information overload, it is necessary to be funny as well as know something about finance in order for it to be read.

For the record, Dr Quinn said: ''Hong Kong is nearing oversold levels and can bounce significantly later this spring.''