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New Fund to Help Ailing Asian Companies

The Asian Development Bank and a Hong Kong company have set up a fund to help ailing Asian companies, and Singapore has overtaken Hong Kong as the world's busiest port.

The Asian Development Bank and Hong Kong investment manager ADM Capital have announced the closing of a $338 million fund aimed at helping Asian companies that have financial troubles, but are still potentially viable.

The Maculus fund focuses on Southeast Asia, a region the ADB estimates to have more than $800 billion in non-performing loans.

A.D.B. investment officer William Willms says the fund has two strategies. The first is to buy the bad debts of companies on the brink of ruin. "Secondly, then help these distressed companies, the defaulted borrowers to become current again, to become a thriving business, a growing business again which can employ people and reduce poverty in the long run," he said.

The fund is the second in the Maculus series. The launch of a third fund of almost $700 million is planned for the second quarter of 2006.

Hong Kong has lost its position as the world's busiest container port to Singapore. While Hong Kong handled about 22 million standard 20-foot containers last year, up two percent from 2004, Singapore handled more than 23 million, an increase of almost nine percent compared with a year earlier.

Hong Kong is facing increasing competition from other ports in southern China, slowing the growth of its cargo volume.

In news from the aviation industry, Jet Airways, India's largest private domestic airline, has bought rival Air Sahara for $500 million.

The takeover means Jet Airways will control more than half of India's booming, highly competitive domestic air travel market.

China's largest telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies says its global sales jumped 40 percent last year to more than $8 billion.

The company said the growth was the result of a growing market in areas such as wireless mobile networks, next generation telecommunications and optical networks.

Overseas sales surpassed domestic sales for the first time. Huawei's customers include some of the world's top communications companies, such as British Telecom, Vodafone and the SingTel group.