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Chinese Jet Fuel Procurer Suffers Massive Investment Losses

China's main procurer of jet fuel, Singapore-based China Aviation Oil, or CAO Singapore, has lost about $550 million in investments that bet against rising oil prices this year.

The company's suspended chief executive officer told Singapore's High Court that the Chinese state-owned parent company, China Aviation Oil Holding, already knew about the losses but kept them secret when it sold a 15-percent stake in CAO Singapore to international investors in October.

David Gerald, head of the Securities Investors Association in Singapore, says investors suffered big losses from the company's bad corporate governance. "The internal checks and balances failed or they ignored it," he said. "Many small investors who actually had faith in the company's business find that they've lost it all."

CAO Singapore has petitioned the Singapore High Court to hold off its creditors while it attempts a restructuring. The Singapore Exchange, meanwhile, has ordered the company to hire PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an internal investigation.

In Hong Kong, property developers New World Development and Sun Hung Kai Properties say they will use environmentally friendly methods to demolish seven blocks of never-occupied buildings along the territory's famous harbor. This will be the world's largest-ever demolition of new buildings, and the transaction is being attacked by environmentalists and critics of Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa.

The buildings were constructed under a program aimed at the middle class, but were left empty when property prices plunged in the late 1990's. The developers bought the project and plan to replace the existing apartments with luxury flats.

The developers, replying to the environmental concerns, say they plan to use hydraulic crushers instead of jackhammers to reduce noise and dust. They also say they plan to recycle materials such as bathtubs, or donate them to charity, and to crush concrete for reuse in land reclamation projects.

The Philippines' gross domestic product grew 6.3 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, due to higher farm output and strong exports.