PEREGRINE Investments Holdings saw net profit rise 27 per cent to $855.55 million last year on the back of buoyant securities markets and under new accounting standards. The leading merchant bank also announced yesterday plans to launch a new debt division. In addition, it proposes listing associate companies and beefing up its group capital backing to US$2 billion in four years, from $500 million at December 31. Regional expansion was also a major focus with Korean Dongbang Peregrine Securities expected to be worth US$1 billion in its own right in a few years, said Peregrine chairman Philip Tose. Earnings per share were up 25.5 per cent to HK$1.426, on a fully diluted basis. The total dividend for the year was 60 cents, against 52.5 cents previously. Accounting standard changes in force from December 31 affect the treatment of extraordinary items, turning them into exceptionals in almost all cases. On stripping out the impact of the accounting change, the Peregrine net profit would have risen by 41 per cent, had an exceptional shown in the restated 1992 accounts been taken as an extraordinary. Core fully diluted earnings per share, excluding exceptionals, rose 39 per cent. Mr Tose said last year was a period of strong gains for the group with securities still making up 60 per cent of attributable profit. Hong Kong and China accounted for some 70 per cent of profits, he said. This year, Mr Tose said there was a lot of uncertainty; Europe was in a mess politically and economically, while fears of further sharp rises in interest rates in the United States might be exaggerated. Threatened international trade wars, uncertainty surrounding China's most-favoured nation trading status and the condition of its economy in the short term were also of concern. ''Over the long run, I believe that these problems will be resolved and therefore I am confident that the economic growth within the Asia-Pacific region will continue,'' Mr Tose said. He said last year Peregrine Capital in Hong Kong was an adviser in 50 fund raisings, involving HK$30 billion, including 22 new listings, 12 rights issues and more than 16 placings. Internationally it was involved in US$1 billion of fund raising as lead or co-lead manager for corporations and financial institutions in the region. Group turnover rose sharply, by 170 per cent, to HK$11.4 billion, 45 per cent of which resulted from heavy trading activity. The group's holding in Invesco, on April 8, was worth HK$1.13 billion compared with the book cost of its 60 million shares of $565 million. The accounting changes relate to a 1992 group extraordinary gain on an investment property disposal in its accounts of HK$253.69 million at Kwong Sang Hong International. Peregrine showed this as an extraordinary gain of HK$68.26 million in the same year, making the net profit $607.8 million in 1992. The latest Peregrine results rose 27 per cent after taking the extraordinary gain as an exceptional through the share of results of associated companies in the group profit and loss account. Under the unadjusted 1992 figures, share of results of associated companies was HK$144.4 million. After the inclusion of the exceptional it was $212.73 million. In the adjusted results, in accordance to current accounting standards, the 1992 net profit is shown as HK$676.06 million, not $607.8 million as recorded last year. Property investment company Kwong Sang Hong net profit fell 44 per cent under the new accounting rules to HK$250.35 million, compared with a rise of 29 per cent in 1992 accounts stated under the old standard.