Vitamin firm plans healthy growth

VITAMIN C manufacturer China Pharmaceutical Enterprise is aiming to list its shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange this year to fund its expansion plans.

Chairman Wang Chunyao said the company was undergoing a re-organisation, and that Chesterton Petty and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu had been appointed to handle the valuation and accounts.

Shijiazhuang No 1 Pharmaceutical, the controlling shareholder in the company, is a state-owned pharmaceutical enterprise. It established China Pharmaceutical Enterprise in Hong Kong in 1992 and transferred its manufacturing and sales operations to the new vehicle.

Mr Wang said the company, one of the four largest vitamin C manufacturing operations in China, intended to increase production from 1,300 to 4,000 tonnes per annum by the end of 1997, with a new production line.

About 70 per cent of China Pharmaceutical Enterprise's products are exported to more than 20 countries, with the United States, Britain and Pakistan accounting for 30 per cent of total exports.

Mr Wang said China Pharmaceutical would like to maintain the present proportion of domestic to export sales.

''China has a big population. Although in the past it did not consume much vitamin C, we believe that the potential in China is tremendous,'' he said.

China Pharmaceutical Enterprise recorded a turnover of about HK$100 million in 1993. Mr Wang said annual profit growth was about 30 per cent.

He said with the growing trend for health consciousness - vitamin C consumption is rising by 15 per cent annually - the product was increasingly used in food manufacturing and agriculture, in addition to its traditional health-related applications.

China Pharmaceutical's manufacturing facilities are on the premises of the No 1 Pharmaceutical plant in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province. The facility occupies seven factory blocks with a total floor area of about 12,000 square metres.

There are two production lines that operate 24 hours a day, and the company currently has more than 550 employees.

Vitamin C manufactured by the company is used for health-related purposes in the form of injections or tablets. It is also used as an anti-oxidant in the production of beer, fruit juices and canned or frozen vegetables and fruits, and is a common additive to flour in the baking process.