ABN AMRO Asset Management has bought a 33 percent stake in the Beijing fund management company, Xiangcai Hefeng. The Dutch firm edged out its competitors in completing the deal - which is the first foreign stake in an existing fund management company in China.

ABN AMRO Asset Management Asia Chief Executive Frank Kusse said "we think it is important for us to have a company which is owned by a top-rated securities firm, that can put its weight behind this company, that can really help in establishing business. You often can do that in a better way when you invest in an existing company than when you set up something brand new."

China's fund management industry is still in its infancy, and many foreign fund managers are talking with local companies on setting up joint ventures.

In earnings news, South Korea's national airline returned to profit last year. Korean Air Lines made $89 million, and says increased passenger traffic, especially on its China route, and improved cargo traffic to the United States helped fuel the turnaround.

Malaysian telecommunications companies reported mixed results. Profit for state-owned Telekom Malaysia fell 42 percent to $278 million last year. But its main mobile-phone competitor, Maxis, saw earnings leap 58 percent last year as the number of its subscribers doubled.

Some Asian countries have unveiled their economic growth figures for 2002. The Malaysian economy expanded 4.2 percent last year, fueled by strong domestic demand and exports.

But India's economic growth slowed down to 4.4 percent, from 5.6 percent the previous year. The government says drought has reduced agricultural output.