JAPANESE utility Shikoku Electric Power Co is making its first-ever visit to Hong Kong in a bid to interest local investors into bank-rolling its power plant construction programme. The utility, the smallest of nine Japanese electric power utilities, has been holding offshore 'information meetings' since 1984, and yesterday's was its first in Hong Kong. According to Shikoku's presentation, estimated residential demand for power in the Shikoku region will be 8,763 million kilowatts by 2004 with an annual growth rate of 2.8 per cent. Industrial demand will grow 2.1 per cent over the same period to 17.5 billion kW. Meeting an increasing power appetite is expensive and the company expects capital expenditure to total US$1.16 billion in 1995, rising to $1.34 billion the following year and $1.81 billion in 1997. In the past, the company has looked offshore for at least part of its capital, and it expects to lift externally-sourced funds to $932 million, or 38 per cent of its fund-raising by 1997, from 28 per cent now. 'Because of the vast amounts [of capital involved] we can't restrict [raising] funds to Japan,' Shikoku managing director Mitsuo Saito said. Shikoku has raised 750 million Swiss francs and $520 million from 11 public offshore issues - seven Swiss franc issues and four Eurodollar - since 1979, and including a $250 million 10-year Eurobond last year. 'Both quality wise and quantity wise we must look to the offshore markets,' he said. Mr Saito also told potential investors: 'Investing in our bonds is a sure investment.' He confirmed that Shikoku has been looking at potential dragon bonds. 'We are interested in issuing dragon bonds, otherwise we would not be here.' The success of such a dragon bond - either yen or US dollar-denominated - depends on the swap attached. The same applied to any potential Hong Kong dollar bond, company executives said. Shikoku has in the past swapped the proceeds of offshore fund-raisings into yen. Any regional issue will probably be for more than six years in maturity.